In the roll out of Season 7, Bellator announced that this year would mark the return of champion Zoila Gurgel. They then created a small rift amongst fans when it was revealed she would be fighting Casey Noland on the undercard of Bellator 78, as fans thought keeping her off the televised broadcast was no way to treat someone with her status as a title-holder. When former Strikeforce bantamweight champ Miesha Tate got word she too had some harsh words for Bellator CEO Bjorn Rebney, claiming sexism and vowing never to fight for the promotion.
Rebney has finally responded to the name-calling and explained the thought process behind the decision to put Gurgel’s fight on the prelims.
“Zoila’s been plagued by injury after injury over the last 19 months, having not fought since March, 2011,” Rebney wrote in an email to MMAFighting. “We felt that the best road back for her did not include rushing her into a major fight against one of the top-ranked women in the world.”
Nowland fits the bill, coming off her second career loss and only possessing an overall record of 4-2. Meanwhile, Gurgel won her title in 2010 against Megumi Fujii by way of Split Decision. Gurgel then outpointed Karina Hallinan in March of 2011, though her belt wasn’t on the line. Gurgel’s title won’t be up for grabs against Nolan either.
“This is not a world title fight as it’s made significantly north of the 115 weight limit where she holds our title. Depending on how Zoila feels and performs on Friday, we can then determine the next appropriate step back,” explained Rebney.
And what does “The Warrior Princess” have to say about this? She is just happy to be fighting, according to her Twitter posts.
Fans can watch her match-up with Nowland this Friday night in Dayton, Ohio. Those not attending can see the scrap on Spike.com before the main card takes place on MTV2 with action firing up at 7:00 PM EST.
PHOTO CREDIT – BELLATOR