Zoila Gurgel - Tough Love

Zoila Gurgel lies on the mat, tired and in pain. The feelings of disappointment and defeat weigh heavily on her mind. Through the experience of her first and only loss, she took away one thing: she wasn't invincible. Once she became familiar with the displeasure of losing, she was determined and motivated not to let this situation reoccur. The fearless competitor told C Magazine, "After that loss, I was like, I never want to feel this again." This successful MMA fighter is the first Bellator Women's Champion at 115 pounds and boasts an incredible record of 11-1. Gurgel, also known as "The Warrior Princess," is ranked sixth in the world in the pound-for-pound MMA Rankings and is a first-degree black belt. But she received her biggest accolade last February when she married MMA star Jorge Gurgel.

All her life, she was either fueled by the people around her or certain events that transpired in her world. For example, her parents divorced when she was young, but Gurgel did not let that deter her. She grew angry and let that emotion drive her to be the fierce competitor she is today. But now, this strong-willed MMA fighter finds her drive from her husband Jorge. The power couple met at a fight in Vegas and married two years later. But just because Zoila is married, don't think for one second she is not the competitor she was before. Gurgel sends challengers to the hospital like it's her job. She has broken a fighter's ribs and another fighter's arm. This 115-pound black belt packs a punch.

In our Q&A with Gurgel, she tells us everything from her early beginnings in Tae Kwon Do to her intense training which led to her success in MMA. The female fighter expresses how thankful she is for her family and all the things she has accomplished through her MMA career. So whether she is reaching out of her comfort zone or is going through intense training, she never gives up and continues to press toward greatness. Rest assured this is a can't-miss interview with Ohio's very own World Champion.


Q & A » » » » » »

Can you list out all your injuries?
I don't have any! The one that I had was a broken hand. That's the only injury I've ever had.

So the only injury you've ever had is a broken hand?
Well, yeah, and a broken toe.

That is awesome. You and Jorge are complete opposites. He's a train wreck!
Yeah, so that's the only injury I've ever had, and that was just recent. Other than that, I'm usually the one sending people to the hospital.

Your nickname should be ER!
Exactly. (laughs)

What gets you through the tortures of training?
The training's the easy part. I've always accepted the challenge. The more the challenge, the better. But it is tough.

Are you one of those people who believe in your way and it's going to be your way or nothing?

Describe your upbringing in California.
It was pretty much normal. My dad brought me up like I was a little boy, so he threw me in every sport he could. My parents got divorced when I was little, so that kind of threw me off , but it brought the anger out in me that I needed in sports.

We've read that you and your father have Tae Kwon Do black belts. What degrees?
Mine is first; my dad's is third.

What sort of advice did your parents give you?
My dad always said stay out of my comfort zone, no matter what I did, because if you're ever going to become anything or do anything great, you have to stay out of that comfort zone and push yourself past your limits.

At what point did you tell yourself you were expert enough to go and fight the world?
I never really said it, I just kind of accepted it, which is kind of weird. A lot of people would probably be like "whaaat?" But I just kind of accepted it and it grew on me. It was just thrown at me, and it all happened so fast.

Who is your teacher now?
Jorge, of course.

How long have you known Jorge Gurgel?
Since March of 2009.

How did you guys meet?

I saw him in Vegas, so that was right after we both fought. We started to talk from there, and then we ended up meeting again in Vegas at another fight and that was sort of like the first date.

How has your marriage to Jorge helped your professional and personal life?
It's helped a lot. Jorge is a great coach and person. He helped me mentally, you know. He's always been there to motivate me, and he does that in everyday life for everything that I could possibly need, so to have him as my husband and my coach, I couldn't ask for anything more.

What do you see in him that makes you want to spend your entire life together, raise a family and grow old?

Jorge is everything that I've always wanted, I guess. It's a weird way to explain it, but he has a lot of things that I see in my dad. (Laughs.)

What is it like being a super bad-ass couple?
I don't know. It's kind of weird. I don't really think about it that much until someone tells me like you, and it's pretty amazing. I wouldn't take a power trip off of it, but it's nice.

Who does the laundry in your house? The cooking?

Me, of course! Come on, he doesn't get his hands dirty like that. (laughs)

You are Ohio's only current World Champion. Explain the value of that achievement.
It's still so new to me. When someone says you're the world champion, it's just so new to me, it hasn't ever really hit me, but it means a lot. When I go back and look at everything I've been through, I'm like "ok, I am!" To be the only one in the state to be able to say that is just surreal.

What's your record?
I am 11 and 1 now.

What is the worst beat-down you have given an opponent?

I broke somebody's arm. Like I said, I've sent some people to the hospital. I've broke someone's ribs. I cut somebody up to the point where she had to go to the hospital and she had hematomas on her head and they had to cut them out so she wouldn't go blind.

What would you change about your sport?
I don't think that there's anything I would change besides the time we spend on the ground stalling.

Who are your three favorite musicians?
Lil Wayne I've always used for fighting. Kanye West and Jay-Z, I guess. When it comes to fighting.

So when you thank God, what do you thank God for?

For the life that I have. For a great family, a healthy and happy family. More than anything, the life that I have, what I've been able to accomplish in life, and what I'm still able to do every day.

What doesn't the public really know about you?
How hard I've worked. How hard I've worked to get to where I'm at. There's a lot of people that still doubt that I should be where I am. Nobody really knows what I've been through to get to where I am. I'm a hard worker, I deserve to be where I am, and nobody will ever take that away from me.

What's your biggest vice?
I do have a little temper, but it doesn't come out as much as it used to, that's for damn sure. So, I've been able to actually control that.

What is the most important quality that a fighter must have?
Believing in yourself and having confidence. Huge.

Do you watch any reality TV? What's your favorite show?
I wouldn't say it's my favorite show, but Jersey Shore, but it's just to laugh at everybody. Those people are idiots, and it's funny.

Yeah, it's like you can't even believe these people are alive.
It's like a train wreck! How can you not watch something just so horribly wrong.

How has fighting affected your outlook on life?

Everything. As much as I've been able to push my body and my mind in this sport, like everything else in life, it all starts in the mind. Everything else I do in life, it helped me with that, and I thank MMA for that, because I push myself past my limits, and I take that on in everyday life.

What was the most memorable moment of your life?
Just recently, getting married to Jorge. I mean, the belt was pretty damn good, but winning Jorge was a better prize.

Where did you guys get married?

It was a private ceremony in Cincinnati with our pastor.

You ever fought in a different country like Thailand or Japan?
No, you know, I've never fought in a different country. Up until last year I had never really been out of California except for like Vegas. But this last year I've been to Louisiana, Chicago, Hollywood, Florida, all over the place.

When you were a kid, how did you spend your summers?
Playing sports. As a kid, there was always a sport that my dad had us in, there was always a sport I was playing, and more than likely that was soccer. During the summer it was always soccer.

Did you work when you were younger? If so, where was the worst place you ever worked?
Long John Silver's.

The measure of a woman is her ability to...?
To never settle for less than what she's worth.

What do you truly hate?
Liars and cheaters.

Last concert you saw was who, when and where?
Earth, Wind and Fire years ago with my dad. Wow, I had to have been about 10.

You're being held in a Mexican jail for mistaken identity. Who gets the first call?
It would probably be my mom or Jorge. That would be hard.

What are you afraid of?
I'm not afraid of anything like that in life. I know there's a purpose behind everything in life and God's the one that has to guide you. So I'm not really afraid of much. Like stupid little things like getting fat. (laughs) I'm afraid of breaking something one day and not being able to do anything. Like my hand, something stupid like that. But other that that, no. I'm not really afraid of too much. What will be is destined to be, I guess.

At the end of the day, fighting is________.

What's the finest compliment you've been given?
That I've inspired someone so much that they have named their child after me.

What was the biggest mistake you ever made?
Probably getting in trouble as a kid. Stupid little fights.

What's the most trouble you ever got into as a kid?
I got expelled from school for fighting. My temper was a little bit worse when I was young.

You ever fight a boy?
A couple of times, yes.

Did you win?
One of them, I did, and the other didn't turn out so well.

Can you cook anything? If so, what's your best dish?
I don't know, maybe my protein pizza or special protein shake.

That sounds awful. If I came home and my wife made me protein pizza, I'd be pissed.
It's good! Jorge's very happy when I cook him delicious and nutritious food. He would tell you too.

What animal would you be?
A liger. (laughs) A lion and a tiger.

What movie could you watch daily for life?
Night at the Roxbury.

What is the most exciting two minutes in sports?
It would probably be the Super Bowl or any championship fight.

What was the first poster on your wall?
Probably New Kids on the Block.

Greatness is ________.

Favorite family tradition?
Sunday dinners.

Who was your childhood hero?
The Warrior Princess.

What's more important: speed, power or vision, and why?
It would be between speed and power. I love power, but speed kills though. Speed.

What is the craziest thing you've ever done?
Marry Jorge.

The greatest athlete of all time is...?

Muhammad Ali.

The worst thing you can do in a fight is ___________.
Think too much.

If you could go anywhere right now, where would you go?

Define failure.

Do you use Twitter? What do you think about social media?
I do use Twitter, and I believe it's a good thing. It keeps your fans feeling like they're connected to you, and you can connect right back to them. So, besides the stalkers, which we've been having problems with lately, besides that I think it's a good outlet for marketing, for just connecting to fans. Most actors I think don't connect to fans as much as we do, as professional athletes, but I think it's a good thing.