Two of the top female fighters in Bellator will soon square off for a second time. Bellator CEO Bjorn Rebney confirmed to MMARising.com today that Zoila “The Warrior Princess” Gurgel and Jessica “Jag” Aguilar have verbally agreed to compete in a late October rematch at an event to be determined.
Gurgel and Aguilar faced off in the semi-finals of the 2010 Bellator women’s tournament at 115 pounds. Gurgel earned a razor-thin Split Decision victory and went on to win the tournament, but has campaigned for a rematch due to the close scoring of the bout. The rematch will be a non-title super fight.
Gurgel (11-1-0) endured severe weight cuts in order to make the 115-pound limit three times during last year’s tournament, but she persevered and scored decision victories over Jessica Penne, Aguilar and Megumi “Mega Megu” Fujii. The close nature of the fights with Aguilar and Fujii led to dissent among fans; many of whom scored them in favour of Gurgel’s opponents. Looking to end all controversy and set the record straight, Gurgel has campaigned for rematches with both fighters since.
Aside from a March win over Karina Hallinan, during which she suffered a fractured hand, Gurgel has been inactive since her October title-winning victory over Fujii. While rehabbing her hand, Gurgel has developed a new love for jiu-jitsu and wrestling, and the former kickboxer has begun to evolve into a well-rounded mixed martial artist. The October rematch with Aguilar will provide the recently-married Gurgel with an opportunity to showcase her new skills.
Aguilar (11-4-0) brought a three-fight winning streak into the Bellator tournament and submitted talented striker Lynn “Lights Out” Alvarez in the opening round. She went on to face Gurgel in the semi-finals seven weeks later and suffered a heartbreaking defeat. Despite clearly taking the final round, Aguilar was only awarded the round and the fight on one judge’s scorecard. Two strangely scored the fight 30-27 for Gurgel, with the third opting for a 30-27 Aguilar card. Rounds one and two were very close.
As discussion among fans continued on for weeks after the fight, Aguilar used the contentious loss as motivation. She submitted Elsie Henri in short order in November and returned to Bellator in June. After three back-and-forth rounds with All-American wrestler Carla Esparza, Aguilar took home a close Split Decision victory to set up the rematch with Gurgel. The American Top Team standout has not been finished since her February 2006 pro debut and holds nine stoppage wins.
Rebney confirmed that the October fight will be contested at 120 or 125 pounds and it is unlikely that Gurgel will be required to cut down to 115 again. Her championship title will remain in a holding period for the time being as the promotion shifts focus to higher weight classes. A tournament at 125 pounds, or possibly at 135, is still under consideration and Gurgel may take part. No official decisions have been made at this time and the projected tournament could feature either four or eight women.
A rematch between Gurgel and Fujii, which has also been on many fans’ minds since last year, remains a possibility according to Rebney. If Gurgel is able to get past Aguilar, Rebney has expressed interest in matching Gurgel up against the Japanese dynamo. Should it proceed in the future, that fight would also be contested at 120 or 125 pounds and would not be a title bout. Rebney hopes that that fight will take place in advance of the next women’s tournament if time permits.
If the tournament does take place at 125 pounds, Rebney is optimistic that Fujii will be a part of it. He cited commitments made to Fujii, Aguilar and other lighter weight fighters as a primary reason why 125 pounds is the most likely next step. On the other hand, if the promotion opts to shift its focus up to 135 pounds, Fujii and other fighters who naturally compete at lower weights will not take part, as Rebney believes that the move up would be far too great.
According to the Bellator CEO, if another women’s tournament at 115 pounds is to take place in the future, it would be with a new group of fighters. Gurgel, despite holding the promotion’s title, would not be part of it. Rebney sees Gurgel’s future at 125 pounds, where drastic weight cuts should not impact her health or her performances inside the cage.
Rebney also addressed one issue that arose following the initial Bellator women’s tournament last year. While the total fight purse for winners of men’s tournaments in Bellator is $175,000 USD, the women’s tournament paid out a total of $36,000 USD to the winner, Gurgel. A decision has not been made at this time, but Rebney stated that the payscale for future women’s tournaments may increase in order to lessen the fight purse disparity between male and female fighters.
Bellator’s “Summer Series” recently concluded at Bellator 48 on August 20th. The promotion’s fifth season kicks off at Bellator 49, which takes place on September 10th in Atlantic City, New Jersey. A 125-pound women’s bout between once-beaten prospects Jessica “Evil” Eye and Casey “KO” Noland was announced yesterday and will take place at Bellator 51 on September 24th in Canton, Ohio.
(Photo Credit: Casper Munoz)