Bellator 115-pound women’s champion Zoila “The Warrior Princess” Gurgel has signed a multi-fight deal with Invicta Fighting Championships and will face Brazilian prospect Jennifer Maia at Invicta FC 5. The all-female fight card is now targeted for Friday, April 5th, in Kansas City, Missouri.
Gurgel’s Invicta FC signing was first reported by MMAjunkie.com today and the promotion subsequently announced the fight booking. Gurgel looks to rebound from a loss to Jessica “Evil” Eye in December, which snapped her seven-fight winning streak. Maia won two of her three bouts in 2012.
Gurgel (12-2-0) made the most of a short-notice fight opportunity in 2010 when she upset Rosi “The Surgeon” Sexton at Bellator 23. The win propelled Gurgel into the inaugural Bellator 115-pound women’s title tournament, which she won by defeating current Invicta FC Atomweight Champion Jessica Penne and divisional stars Jessica “Jag” Aguilar and Megumi “Mega Megu” Fujii. The weight cut to make 115 pounds became too severe for Gurgel, however, and she moved back up to 125 pounds for her next bout; a March 2011 victory over Karina Hallinan in a rematch from 2009.
A torn ACL kept Gurgel out of action for more than 18 months and her relationship with Bellator began to sour during that time. After publicised disputes with the promotion, which placed her on untelevised undercards twice, Gurgel earned a hard-fought decision victory over Casey “KO” Noland at Bellator 78 in October. She made a quick return to the cage to face Eye, but was choked unconscious by a standing arm-triangle choke in just 58 seconds. With Bellator now in her past, Gurgel looks for a new start as she joins her younger sister, Stephanie “Macaquinha” Frausto, on the Invicta FC roster.
Maia (6-2-1) gained acclaim as one of Brazil’s fastest rising prospects after earning first-round finishes in each of her first four fights. Following a Draw with veteran Kalindra Carvalho Faria, Maia suffered her first loss against Vanessa Porto, who competes for the inaugural Invicta FC Flyweight Championship in April. She rebounded with a submission victory in her debut for Brazil’s all-female Pink Fight promotion in January and had planned to face Porto in a rematch for the Pink Fight 132-pound title in March.
When the Porto rematch fell apart, Maia signed on to compete in the 2012 Cage Warriors women’s flyweight tournament, which was set to crown the promotion’s first female champion at 125 pounds. In the semi-final round, Maia was knocked out by Sheila “The German Tank” Gaff in just ten seconds, though the bout was not without some controversy and Gaff was accused of faking a glove touch in order to get an early advantage. Maia got back on track in December with a Unanimous Decision victory and now makes her North American MMA debut.
Invicta Fighting Championships 5 takes place on April 5th and is targeted for the Ameristar Casino Hotel in Kansas City, Missouri. The event is headlined by an Invicta FC Atomweight Championship bout between champion Jessica Penne and Michelle “The Karate Hottie” Waterson. The inaugural Invicta FC Flyweight Championship is up for grabs when Barb “Little Warrior” Honchak battles Vanessa Porto.