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CEO Bjorn Rebney addresses controversy surrounding Zoila Gurgel’s Bellator 78 bout

UFC welterweight champ Georges St-Pierre will make his return to the ring in November after an eighteen-month absence from competition as the result of an injury. As a means of capitalizing on the scenario, the organization has opted to put him in a headlining tilt in his hometown against a highly-touted opponent and is even giving the tilt a UFC Primetime treatment.

However, Bellator has handled things somewhat differently when it comes to one of their own title-holders coming back from a series of health-related woes, relegating Zoila Gurgel to the undercard of Friday night’s Bellator 78 lineup despite the show taking place just outside of her home-base in Cincinnati. The decision to do so has drawn a good deal of criticism from fans and received even more publicity when Strikeforce star Miesha Tate took CEO Bjorn Rebney to task in a series of messages on Twitter.

Rebney has since decided to address the matter, providing a partial explanation though never fully acknowledging why Gurgel’s bout was buried.

“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,” explained Rebney in an email to MMAFighting. “Depending on how Zoila feels and performs on Friday, we can then determine the next appropriate step back.”

Though non-title fights are fairly common for Bellator champions, the situation marks the first time one has been booked on the non-televised portion of a card. Fortunately, fans can still catch Gurgel competing live through an online stream provided by starting at 7:00 PM EST.


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