Barbara Nepomuceno makes her professional MMA debut on December 31 when she takes on Gabi Garcia at the RIZIN 14 event.
Nepomuceno is being tipped for stardom in the sport of MMA, thanks to a successful kickboxing in which she has held the WGP 185-pound kickboxing world title on multiple occasions. The 28-year-old trains at Team Big G with highly acclaimed head coach, Augusto Nasser. In 2015 she came second in the Kickboxing World Championships, with the 6″5ft heavyweight competitor, Katya Kavaleva, taking first place
Ahead of the big fight, Nepomuceno discussed her joy at finally being given the Gabi Garcia fight after many years of campaigning for it.
“As many of you already know, my fight in Japan against Gabi Garcia will finally roll! After a few years trying to debut in MMA the time has come. I am very happy to have succeeded. It was a real battle for us to get this contract. Many people collaborated to make this happen, friends of the fight, businessmen, coaches, athletes, press, fans … if I were to quote names I must commit injustice with many people because I will probably forget some … but know that all, part of it, which for me is already a great achievement.” Nepomuceno said.
Nepomuceno went on to reveal a misunderstanding she had with Garcia three years ago.
“But I would like to use this space here to clarify some misunderstanding. About 3 years ago, an online report came out where Gabi said she had not found any opponents and would have to fight with men in MMA. I took this hook and did a challenge, respectfully (you can find that video on YouTube). Before that, Gabi and I even talked, exchanged messages and everything.” she said.
“But after the challenge, she interpreted it as something personal and began to make personal and professional offenses, saying that I was not qualified to fight her, that I offended the Japanese people, among other absurdities.
In the middle of the fight, especially in MMA this is very common. All events always roll challenges! Normal, right? And the reason I challenged her was just to get a fight, since I also had a hard time getting opponents.” she continued.
Ultimately, Nepomuceno says she doesn’t enjoy trash talking and won’t be taking part in any ‘teasing’ or ‘internet discussion’ in the lead-up to this fight.
“It basically unfolded from that. If I had the prints stored with me you would see the things I already had to read … really absurd! The folks who have followed the case from the beginning know. Particularly, it is not a path I like to take in my struggles, I hate this trash talking. But I answered yes, at times when I was attacked very low and lying. Even a joke when I was injured I had to listen. But all in your time. Today I ask you to enjoy my work and admire me as an athlete who does not get into teasing, internet discussion.” she said.
The fight on December 31 is certainly a big one. For three years, Garcia has been dominating any potential contenders at heavyweight, finishing the likes of Destanie Yarbrough, Anna Maliukova, Lei’D Tapa and Veronika Futina. However, in Nepomuceno, she has perhaps her toughest test to date in a woman who’s enjoyed a huge amount of success already in combat sports. The showdown will essentially be a kickboxing world champ vs. a BJJ world champ.
RIZIN 14 takes place on December 31 from the Saitama Super Arena in Saitama, Japan. The event will be aired worldwide live on FITE TV.