Friday night Bellator's 115-pound women's champion Zoila Gurgel will fight for the first time in 19 months, vs. Casey Noland in a non-title bout at 125-pounds.
However, the fight is way down the card, and will not be televised.
"The Warrior Princess" maintained a positive mental attitude about the snub, tweeting "[I] don't need main event status to shine on Friday."
However, former Strikeforce women's champion Miesha Tate was outraged.
"I cannot believe [Bellator] would allow [its] champion to be placed on the UN televised undercard in her hometown," tweeted Tate. "A champion is a champion regardless if she is fighting up a weight, u use her image to promote the posters & then put her on the undercard?! Blows my mind. This is the 2nd time too you have done this I tell you what I would rather never fight MMA again then fight for u under @BellatorMMA banner.... The amount of disrespect you have given @ZoilaGurgel is disgusting."
Bellator CEO Bjorn Rebney offered an explanation.
"Zoila’s been plagued by injury after injury over the last 19 months, having not fought since March, 2011," Rebney wrote to MMA fighting. "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. This is not a world title fight as it’s made significantly north of the 115 weight limit where she holds our title. Depending on how Zoila feels and performs on Friday, we can then determine the next appropriate step back."
Bellator sometimes uses their champions in non title bouts. Ordinarily these are main event or co-main event. This is believed to be the first time that a Bellator champion fought and did not make the televised portion of the card.