Jorge Gurgel Blasts Critics Of Wife Zoila’s Request For Fans Assistance With Medical Bills
By Michael Steczkowski
Zoila Gurgel was quite a hot topic of conversation this week. The result of the up and coming female MMA star’s online request for assistance with her medical expenses stemming from a torn ACL sustained in training was nothing short of a major backlash from fans who responded with their outrage online.
The thread on MMA.tv’s “Underground” message forum titled “Zoila Gurgel needs help w/Medical Bills“ created quite an uproar. Her request was received similarly on Twitter.
The wide range of insults have included suggestions that she should find a husband who can provide better for her, to accusations claiming that she and her husband, Strikeforce competitor Jorge Gurgel, are looking for a handout to continue living some kind of extravagant lifestyle.
The online discourse has not surprisingly drawn her husband into the line of fire. Jorge explained to Full Contact Fighter that he was not aware of Zoila’s initial decision to go public with a request for assistance, only about her troubles with insurance coverage.
“Since we have been married, I have tried to help her get coverage, but she keeps getting denied,” he said. “Zoila has had outstanding medical bills from California, Florida and Illinois.”
Gurgel stated that his attorney advised him not to answer questions regarding the extent to which the situation has put a financial strain on the couple. Gurgel, whose professional career began in 2009, has competed in 22 bouts. He also owns JG MMA and Fitness Academy, which is home to over 700 students in Ohio.
“I don’t care what kind of fighter you are or how much you make,” Jorge said. “You just can’t shit out 54,000 dollars, without insurance.”
Jorge offered a breakdown of the total outstanding balance, stating that there is an emergency room bill in the amount of 1,300 dollars plus additional doctor visit charges. He stated that there was a 2,500 dollar deductible, despite the couple’s claim that Zoila does not have insurance. Add the anesthesiologist, the surgical procedure, physical therapy and rehabilitation, and the total cost tops 50,000 dollars.
Jorge stated that Zoila doesn’t regret asking for financial help, and is very upset at the negativity from fans.
“I should know better than to let these keyboard warrior attacks get to me,” he said. “It would be different, if I was in Brazil. I would challenge each and every one of them that insulted me and my wife to a fight.“
Jorge said he advised Zoila to close her Twitter account.
“Twitter is too much, it’s ruining people’s social skills,” he said. “Everyone has their faces buried in their phone nowadays. I’d rather be riding a wave, or running and seeing the pavement beneath me with the sun shining down on my face.”
Jorge said that his character should never be in question. He said that he does everything he can to help his wife as well as her sister, who lives with the couple, and two fighters who train at his gym and also reside with them.
Zoila’s knee surgery has been scheduled with Dr. Timothy McConnel, who has worked on Jorge. According to Jorge, the doctor has worked out a payment plan with the Gurgels.
“My wife and I do not blame Bellator or expect them to pay for her training injuries. We are aware they are not covered.”
Jorge pointed out that Bellator CEO Bjorn Rebney expressed the promotion’s willingness to assist with their troubles. Only fighters under the umbrella of Zuffa, LLC, the parent company of the UFC and Strikeforce, are insured for training. This policy was enacted just a few months ago.
Jorge said this experience is indeed a lesson learned. While we don’t know whether or not he will fight any of the keyboard warriors, Jorge made clear that he will return to action early next year.