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Gabi Garcia meets kickboxer Barbara Nepomuceno at RIZIN 14 on NYE

The biggest and best card the Japanese organization has put forth yet got that much better, with one of the best grapplers in the world getting another challenger in Japan.

As RIZIN prepares to close out the year with their biggest card to date, they’re making sure to pack it with as much substance as flash. A slew of fights have been announced recently, including the return of one of the most decorated female grapplers to enter MMA.

Brazilian Gabi Garcia (5-0) is now set to face kickboxer Barbara Nepomuceno. Nepomuceno will be making her MMA debut with the contest. She has had an extensive amateur kickboxing caree, going 69-4, and is now 3-1 as a professional.

This will be the second fight in 2018 for Garcia, after her submission win over Veronika Futina at ROAD FC 47 this past May. This time, she’ll be facing a ferocious striker with a legitimate experience in open striking exchanges.

It’s an interesting choice for an opponent against the imposing Garcia. And it’s a little difficult to gauge how successful Nepomuceno can be, since her level of opposition in combat sports has so been varied.

Here she is in a fight against Talita Moreno, where she demonstrated a monster right hand — albeit against a pretty clearly over-matched fighter that was seemingly overwhelmed before the opening bell:

Still that kind of fight shows a possible path to victory, given Garcia’s susceptibility to getting hit (as we’ve seen in her fights against Destanie Yarbrough and Lei’D Tapa). At the very least, Garcia will be up against a fighter that won’t be at as much of a size and strength disadvantage as Megumi Yabushita was in their shootboxing bout.

The main point of intrigue is to see how Gabi can deal with an opponent that can deliver more accurate striking than what she’s used to. Barbara may still get bum-rushed, and her head movement isn’t optimal. But, the 5’ 8”, 198 lb Nepomuceno may be able stay upright long enough to make it count.

Also on the card is a duel between former UFC fighters Daron Cruickshank and Damien Brown, as well as Ulka Sasaki, Johnny Case, Justin Scoggins, Yuki Motoya. In the co-main event the card will feature a stellar champion vs champion crossover fight between Bellator’s Darrion Caldwell and former UFC title contender Kyoji Horiguchi.

The event will be headlined by a historic exhibition between unbeaten former boxing champion Floyd Mayweather and kickboxing wunderkind Tenshin Nasukawa.

RIZIN 14 takes place on December 31st from Japan’s Super Saitama Arena. Unfortunately an international broadcast partner for the event has yet to be announced.