As the date crept closer for Zoila Gurgel‘s return to the ring at Bellator 78 people began to notice she wasn’t on the televised portion of the card. When word began to spread, fans, fighters and analysts quickly sided with Gurgel who had been out of action for 18 months due to injury. Now that the fight is in books, Gurgel has taken a level-headed approach to the pre-fight drama, pointing to Bellator’s decision as a wise one rather than being critical of her employers.
“To be on the undercard, I think it was the right thing to do based on my performance, obviously. I was just more than happy to be back in there,”relayed Gurgel to MMAWeekly.
Though Gurgel holds the belt at 115 pounds, it is now looking like she will be staying at 125 pounds as she fought at this past Friday night, confidently stating, “I’ll be the best in the world at 125 pounds. I did it at 115 and I’ll do it at 125.”
Bellator CEO Bjorn Rebney also explained he wouldn’t have done things differently in retrospect even if it wasn’t a popular move at the time.
“Looking at it and hindsight being 20/20, I would do the same thing again,” explained Rebney. “Zoila’s going to get better, she’s going to get sharper, she’s going to look better her next fight, and with big fight potential, possibly a rematch with Jessica Aguilar or a Megumi Fujii rematch or something like that, and she progressively gets her feet back under her, a TV spot will be a no-brainer.”
“It wasn’t the right move to put her right back in against a major, world-class competitor out of respect for her and the developmental process. I get it, I get the emotion,” Rebney continued. “That’s why in situations like that, I don’t respond emotionally and kind of counterpunch to it, because I get it. I was an athlete in college and I wanted to play.”
Gurgel won her match-up against Casey Noland by way of decision, though she started slow and found herself in trouble at times before turning the pace up in the fight’s final frame.
PHOTO CREDIT – BELLATOR