Bellator CEO Bjorn Rebney is playing defense as he tries to explain his reasoning for placing Zoila Gurgel (11-1) on the preliminary card. The decision came under scrutiny this week after former Strikeforce champion Miesha Tate (13-3) expressed her shock through a tweet, where she said that she’d rather retire than compete for a company who doesn’t place their champion on the main card.
“Zoila’s been plagued by injury after injury over the last 19 months, having not fought since March, 2011,” Rebney wrote in a letter to MMA Fighting. “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.”
Gurgel is the women’s 115 pound championship since winning the belt two years ago. Due to injuries, Gurgel has only fought once since winning the belt back in 2011. She won in what was a nontitle fight. Gurgel’s only loss came at the hands of Tate while under the Strikeforce name.
At Bellator 78, Gurgel takes on Casey Noland (4-2) who makes her second appearance for the company after losing in her debut. The two are set to fight at 125 pounds.
“This is not a world title fight as it’s made significantly north of the 115 weight limit where she holds our title,” said Rebney. “Depending on how Zoila feels and performs on Friday, we can then determine the next appropriate step back.”
Gurgel’s fight can be seen online at Spike.com and if the main card ends early, there’s the possibility her fight may replayed on TV.