Boasting one of the most impressive resumes in Women’s MMA at 12-2, Zoila Frausto Gurgel makes her way to the Invicta cage on April 5th at Invicta FC 5.
With world titles and and victories over the legendary Megumii Fuji, and current Invicta FC Atomweight champion Jessica Penne, few can match the career of Gurgel. Using controlled aggressiveness and with a family of fighters, including current Invicta veteran Stephanie Frausto, behind her, Gurgel will attempt to move straight to the top of the 125lb division on April 5th.
Corey Smith: You come from a family of Mixed Martial Artists. Your sister Stephanie Frausto fights, of course your husband Jorge Gurgel is a fighter. Even your father is a third degree black belt in Taekwondo. How much easier is your career because of that type of support group?
Zoila Frausto Gurgel: I wouldn’t say it’s easier because of the pressure I put on myself to achieve greatness for them all, because I fight for my family and to leave a legacy. But it is also nice to have so many people, so close to me, know the ins and outs of martial arts and competition.
ZFG: To be able to gain knowledge of how things were and how they are now & exactly what is needed to succeed, it definitely helps when a lot of family is involved in it.
CS: Are there any challenges that come with it?
ZFG: The challenges would definitely be the pressure I put on myself to do great things for not just myself, but for them as well.
CS: You have spoken about the fact that you were a very talented soccer player, but ultimately you were too aggressive for the sport. Do you think natural aggression is a necessity for MMA or is it possible to be more reactive?
ZFG: If you use it right, I believe it’s a definite plus. Controlled aggression is what I call it. I’m a prime example of the fact that it does work, but I’m also an example that if you get too involved in that part of it, you can definitely over look things and make mistakes in fights. My only two losses have come from just that, letting the anger take over with no control.
CS: You recently left Bellator to sign with Invicta. Is it safe to say a main reason for the departure was a desire to fight more often?
ZFG: Haha, to be safe, yes, but there were many other reasons why I wanted out and to see the way Invicta treated their athletes was a major plus for me. It’s exactly where I want to be. I’ll also be able to fight more often, and staying busy, for me, is a major plus.
CS: You were the 115lb world champion in Bellator, but your last two fights were at 125lbs, and your upcoming bout in Invicta is also at 125lbs. Do you feel like this is a more natural weight class for you?
ZFG: I fought at 115 only because I was given an opportunity to fight the best in the world at the time and I was fighting for a world title. I took the opportunity and I did what I set out to do, beat the best to be the best.
ZFG: 125lbs is definitely a lot easier to make, and is a more natural weight class for me. Making 115lbs; there’s advantages and disadvantages, I’m usually a lot bigger, stronger and faster than most women at that weight class. But, I was only able to fight at maybe 80% of my full ability because of the harsh weight cuts.
ZFG: Who knows, if there was ever a big fight that I couldn’t turn down, I just might go down to 115 for something big, but I’m happy where I am now at 125. I did what I needed to do at 115.
CS: Most fighter say the weight cut is the hardest part about fighting. Other than that, what do you consider the most difficult part of being a professional fighter?
ZFG: To make 115lb it was definitely the weight cut, it drove me crazy. It was never a very pleasant time in my life. Other than that, now cutting is pretty easy, it’s never fun, but it’s necessary.
ZFG: Like anything else, training isn’t always fun especially when you’re tired or worn out, but it’s all the name of the game to push through to be the best. All the many sacrifices that are made throughout the training camp are worth the victories at the end.
ZFG: I wouldn’t consider the weight cut being the hardest part anymore. The hardest part would be the time away from family and friends that’s usually sacrificed due to training. Resting and staying on a good training schedule can also be hard.
CS: After your loss to Jessica Eye, you posted a picture of yourself on Twitter in the same chokehold she used on you. The tag line was something to the effect of “stuff happens.” Do you think it’s important to keep a positive attitude and not take yourself too seriously?
ZFG: It was “sh*t happens” though. HAHA! Of course, you can either dwell on the past, even though it was so soon, or you can learn from your mistakes and move forward. Plus, I was in high spirits that day, because the day after the fight I wasn’t at all satisfied with what happen so I went out to Grappler’s Quest World Championship and won the Absolute Division, a belt and two medals.
ZFG: I’m a competitor and the only way I can move forward from a loss is continue to compete, and I did. The very next day with ZERO sleep, and I won.
CS: You once called your only other loss to Miesha Tate a “good thing.” Do you feel the same way about the loss to Eye? Do you learn more in defeat than you do in victory?
ZFG: Of course. You can only learn more from losses. But it’s the athlete’s choices to learn by mistake and continue to improve, so it doesn’t happen again.
CS: What do you think an organization like Invicta means for the sport of Women’s MMA?
ZFG: It’s amazing. It give us a much needed home. It gives us a chance to shine together. To let the world know that there is A LOT of talented and professional Mixed Martial Artist out there that are also women. Invicta treats their fighters the way professional athletes should be treated. It gives us more hope.
CS: When you are in the cage, what type of coaching and feedback do you look for from your corner? Does anyone’s voice stand out over the others?
ZFG: My corners are very important to me. For me it has to be someone that is definitely looking out for my best interest and whose voice I respect, hear, and will follow. So for this fight my corners will be the man that started my career on fire; Kru Jasper Tayaba and the man that pulled me through a World Championship, my husband Jorge Gurgel. Lastly, my sister Stephanie Frausto; because she’s always a major part of my training camp, mental and physical, she gives me strength as well.
CS: You have mentioned that you are horrible in your sister’s corner during a fight because you are too excited or nervous. Are your family members the same when they corner you?
ZFG: I believe Steph and Jorge both have said that they are never really that nervous for my fight because they know what I’m capable of and if used correctly, nobody can beat me.
CS: Finally, MMA is equally a team sport as it is an individual sport. Who would you like to thank?
ZFG: As always I’d like to thank my coaches for this camp: My husband Jorge Gurgel, my 1st coach ever Jasper Tayaba, wrestling coach Alan Fried.
ZFG: Boxing Coach T, and main training partner my sister Stephanie Frausto. My team back home in Ohio JGMMA and the guys here at Dethrone Base Camp in Fresno that have helped me out for this fight.
ZFG: And as always my family, friends, and supporters. Especially my mom Zoyla Grace and Larry, brother Arthur Frausto and Victoria Le Callahan. My dad, Luis Frausto.
ZFG: Without my support system I would be nothing, so thank you.