Bellator women’s champ Zoila “The Warrior Princess” Gurgel has suffered a significant setback and will be out of action until next year. Gurgel tore the anterior cruciate ligament in her knee and has been forced to withdraw from a planned bout with Carina “Beauty But The Beast” Damm at Bellator 57.
Gurgel announced the news earlier today and stated that she expects to undergo surgery soon after an MRI confirmed the severity of the ACL tear. The injury often requires a lengthy recovery time for fighters and Gurgel will likely be sidelined until mid-2012. Damm may still compete on the card.
Gurgel (11-1-0) has been out of action since a March victory over rival Karina Hallinan due to a fractured hand. While recovering from the injury, she competed in grappling tournaments and has won numerous medals. Gurgel had initially planned to rematch Jessica “Jag” Aguilar in late October, but the bout was scrapped due to an Aguilar foot injury that required additional recovery time. Gurgel was then matched up against Damm on the Bellator 57 card, which takes place on November 12th in Rama, Ontario.
According to Gurgel, who spoke with MMARising.com this evening, she suffered a complete tear of the ACL in her right knee. The injury occurred during wrestling practice while working for a takedown. She immediately felt pain in her knee, but initially tried to carry on with practice. When it became clear that there was a serious problem, Gurgel went in for the MRI, which confirmed the tear. She would like to undergo surgery in the coming weeks and is expected to be out of action for six to eight months.
Despite the injury setback, Gurgel has maintained a positive attitude and hopes to return as soon as possible, but says that she is aware that her recovery cannot be rushed. She credits her family and supporters for motivating and encouraging her during the difficult time and hopes to continue to lead the way for other female fighters upon her return next year.
This month, Bellator CEO Bjorn Rebney confirmed to MMARising.com that a women’s tournament at 125 pounds was targeted for an upcoming Bellator season in 2012. Gurgel was expected to be a key member of the tournament field and rematches with both Aguilar and Megumi “Mega Megu” Fujii were also addressed. With Gurgel out of action, it is currently unknown whether the promotion will continue on with its tournament plans, but Rebney left open the possibility that the tournament may take place in the latter half of 2012. That timetable may allow Gurgel to compete if she is able to return in time.
Bellator has yet to make an announcement on the status of Damm, who may remain on the Bellator 57 card against a new opponent or compete on a later card before the end of the year.
(Photo Credit: Casper Munoz)