Jorge Gurgel is telling his wife to ignore the circumstances surrounding her next bout.
Gurgel, who's both the husband and manager of Zoila Gurgel (formerly Zoila Frausto), today accused the promotion of a "borderline dumb" move in placing the women's champ on the un-televised prelims of Bellator 78, which takes place Friday at Nutter Center in Fairfield, Ohio.
"Who in their right mind would devalue their own assets?" Jorge Gurgel said. "You're pretty much shooting yourself in the foot for putting your only female champion on the undercard fighting on an un-televised spot, when you do have two extra (televised) spots."
Jorge Gurgel wasn't the only one unhappy with the choice. Ex-Strikeforce women's bantamweight champ Miesha Tate led a small chorus of fans disgruntled with Zoila Gurgel's placement on Friday's fight card, which puts her on a six-bout preliminary-card streamed on Spike.com.
The 115-pound champ Zoila Gurgel (11-1 MMA, 5-0 BFC) returns to the cage for the first time in 19 months when she meets Casey Noland (4-2 MMA, 0-1 BFC) in a non-title, 125-pound bout.
In a statement emailed to MMAjunkie.com (www.mmajunkie.com), Bellator CEO Bjorn Rebney said, "Zoila's been plagued by injury after injury over the last 19 months, having not fought since March 2011. 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."
Jorge Gurgel countered that he wasn't angry about the choice of opponent, but the statement he felt was made by putting a champion low on the card.
"And Anderson Silva still fought Stephan Bonnar up a weight class and it was still the main event," he said. "She's the champion of the organization. Every single fight of hers should be televised. I have never heard in my life of a champion's fight being on an undercard."
Zoila Gurgel in 2010 won a Bellator women's 115-pound tournament, defeating Jessica Penne, Jessica Aguilar and Megumi Fujii to claim the belt. She returned in March 2011 for a non-title bout at 125 pounds and defeated Karina Hallinan. She was then scheduled to return in October of that for a rematch with Aguilar, but withdrew due to injury. A non-title bout against Carina Damm was scratched a month later when she suffered an ACL tear in training.
Sacked with mounting medical bills, the champ sought to raise funds online for corrective surgery. Her husband said a promise made on Twitter by Bellator to help cover the cost of the procedure never materialized, and the couple are still paying off debt.
"They try to sound so good on the outside, but it's not the way it is," Jorge Gurgel said. "We didn't get a single text message from Mr. Rebney, nor anybody that represents Bellator, all the way until [Bellator 71], when Zoila was already training and walking very well. They were very nice to us, but that's a year and two months after the surgery.
"They tweeted about it so they can come out like this guardian angel like Zuffa does. Zuffa takes care of its fighters."
His advice to his wife is to focus just on what's ahead of her.
"All she wants to do is fight," Jorge Gurgel said. "That's the mentality that I try and make her live for: We do not worry about these things. With Zoila, we just keep knocking people out and shining."
As for the champ's future plans, he said his wife ideally would defend her title in a rematch against Aguilar before moving to 125 pounds.
"Our immediate goal is to establish her as the No. 1 125-pound fighter," Jorge Gurgel said. "She wants to be in the Bellator 125-pound tournament, we're going to win the tournament, and she's going to be the one holding both belts."
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(Pictured: Zoila Gurgel)