This Friday night at Bellator 78 from Fairborn, Ohio one of the Bellator Fighting Championship title holders will return to the cage but on the undercard.
The main card consists of two semi-final bouts for the welterweight tournament and with two additional bouts on the main card available it seems odd that women’s 115 lb. champion Zoila Gurgel is not featured on it.
In October 2010, Gurgel earned the championship by winning the Season 3 tournament with a split decision win over Megumi Fujii. She has only had one fight since then in a non-title bout contested at 125 lbs. She has missed a year due to torn ACL suffered in training for a fight with Carina Damm scheduled for November 2011.
Fully healed now she looks to move back into a normal routine with training camps & consistent fights booked. Her first step is against Casey Noland this Friday.
Even though she has missed a tremendous amount of time due to injury it is puzzling to many why she was placed on the undercard. Earlier in the Bellator tournaments there are four bouts on the main card taking up all slots. With the welterweight tournament into the semi-finals they are only taking up half of the main card.
With two open spots to book fights a champion being featured would seem automatic. It is a non-title fight but being a title holder should hold a level of prestige & respect. Being placed on an undercard trivializes her achievements & disturbs many of her fans.
Gurgel is a professional and will take care of her business accordingly. No doubt she is looking to defend her championship so she would like to earn a win and be matched up with a top contender as soon as possible. What Bellator does with her next may determine her future with the promotion. If they are unable or unwilling to put her on the main card in a title fight it could spell the end of her time with them.
The future of Strikeforce is cloudy at best and it may not be a home for her regardless as they are only featuring 135 lb. fighters. Invicta FC would be the logical and comfortable home for her. The all female promotion has put together three very entertaining shows and appear to be in the MMA business for the long haul.
Bellator’s mishandling of this is not at all surprising. For some time now fans & fighters have complained about the lack of fights the champions receive. Gurgel now has one but is being buried well down the card.
Previously Gurgel was upset due to her being disrespected by the promotion when she was cast aside at Bellator 69. A bout between Megumi Fujii & Jessica Aguilar was billed as the world’s number one and two fighters in the division. There was little mention of the champion which was bizarre due to the fact she defeated both women during the tournament.
All evidence points toward this relationship ending as soon as possible. We have seen other broken MMA relationships mended over time so that is always plausible. Should Gurgel win on Friday she will want to know her next step in regards to the championship. How that is handled will give her an indication on where her future lies.
Written by Mike McPhee
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