Zoila Frausto Gurgel Has No Regrets About Bolting From Bellator and Signing With Invicta FC
By Joshua Molina
Whether it’s Don King, Bob Arum or Dana White, promoters have always been a central focus in combat sports.
Even though fighters and promoters need each other, promoters often convince fighters that, without a big stage to fight on, they are somehow less valuable.
This is why Zoila Frausto Gurgel’s recent defection from Bellator to Invicta FC is all the more bold.
Frausto Gurgel stunned the MMA world recently when she announced that she had signed a multi-fight deal with all-women’s online Pay Per View promotion Invicta FC. The former Bellator flyweight champion jumped from the second-largest American mixed martial arts promotion in the world, which appears weekly on national cable television, to Invicta FC.
Frausto Gurgel left Bellator after the two sides were unable to work out an agreement on a new contract. She felt like Bellator was in no hurry to make a new deal, despite her nearly unblemished 6-1 record there, and she just wanted to fight. So amid stalled contract negotiations, Frausto Gurgel’s manager, husband and MMA fighter Jorge Gurgel, quickly negotiated a deal with Invicta.
“It’s an amazing thing,” Frausto Gurgel said. “From their first show until now, they’ve put on high-caliber fights, with quality production. It’s mind-blowing to me, like they have been around for years.”
Frausto Gurgel will step back into the cage in April to fight Jennifer Maia at Invicta 5.
“I am going to shoot back to the top,” she said.
Frausto Gurgel, 12-2, has never fought for Invicta FC, but she attended shows with her sister, Stephanie Frausto, a two fight veteran of the promotion. She recalled that she was treated with a level of respect unlike anything she had ever experienced in other MMA companies.
“The amount of respect and appreciation I got just for going to the shows was amazing,” Frausto Gurgel said. “The way I was treated there, it was gold. The way I saw them treat every single one of those athletes, from the preliminary to the main card, it was just awesome.”
Frausto Gurgel had fallen out of favor with Bellator after she and her husband had criticized the promotion in 2012 for booking her championship fight on the non-televised undercard of a show. The Gurgels felt that Bellator was devaluing the championship and berating women’s MMA. Other fighters such as Miesha Tate agreed and publicly challenged Bellator’s decision.
Bellator’s burial of the title followed another high-profile dispute between Frausto Gurgel and the company. In 2011, Frausto Gurgel tore here ACL in training. Her husband went on Twitter to ask for donations to pay for the surgery because even though the Gurgels alleged that Bellator had promised to do so, the company didn’t.
Frausto Gurgel said she wants to move beyond the Bellator drama and focus on Invicta. She said her husband was trying to get a fight signed in Bellator but since Bellator wasn’t moving to make anything happen, she felt it was more or less like the company was releasing her.
“It was a clean break,” Frausto Gurgel said. “They went their way and we went our way.”
After a Dec. 7 standing triangle choke submission loss to Jessica Eye, Frausto Gurgel said she is ready to prove herself again. She said she has learned from her two losses, the other to Miesha Tate, to control her emotions inside the cage. Both times she lost, she said, she let her anger take over, and ignored her game plan.
Frausto Gurgel said she’s ready to become part of a generation of women fighters in Invicta FC and the UFC, who will show the world that women know how to fight just like their male counterparts.
“Let’s work together,” she said. “Let’s put the spotlight on women’s MMA.”
Unlike some other female fighters, Frausto Gurgel has stopped short of criticizing women’s sensation Ronda Rousey, who has steamrolled through her opponents, but has also talked a lot of trash about other fighters along the way and who was crowned the first UFC women’s champion in history before her first fight for the promotion.
“She’s an amazing fighter,” Frausto Gurgel said. “People know exactly what she is going for (armbar submission) and no one can stop it. To see her do everything she sets her mind to, it’s an amazing thing.”
Of her brash attitude, Frausto Gurgel said “it works for her. It’s how she makes her money. She is doing her job.”
Even though the UFC is only promoting 135 pound fights right now, she believes that eventually the company will add more women’s weight divisions.
Frausto Gurgel is excited to fight for Invicta and regain the gold one day.
“I just love the competition and the discipline that it takes to fight,” Frausto Gurgel said. “It is so incredibly difficult to keep it all together. I love it. It’s the highest level of competition to be able to do it. It is just an amazing thing.”