Courtesy of Mark Davis Photography
Madera’s Zoila “The Warrior Princess” Frausto throws a punch at Jaimee Nievera during a Combates Americas fight in February. She earned a technical knockout. She will enter the octagon again on Aug. 2 to headline a Combate Americas fight card at Fresno’s Save Mart Center.
After two ACL knee surgeries — seven years apart and on the same date, November 11 — there isn’t a thing that can stop Madera native and MMA Champion Zoila “The Warrior Princess” Frausto.
“Having to go through two (surgeries), made me more mentally and physically strong than I have ever been in my entire career,” she said. “Its taught me things that I need to do be successful without my legs and that made me a better fighter. I had to basically learn to walk all over again.”
Frausto will fight August 2 in Fresno’s Save Mart Center for Combate Americas. This will be her third scheduled fight with the organization. She finished her opponent early and came away with the TKO victory in February and her next fight was cancelled at the last minute.
She’s facing a Costa Rican Judo champion, Reina Cardosa, who’s 9-1.
“She’s been fighting for pretty much as long as I have. She’s been around for at least a decade and has a really good record. She’s a really good grappler,” Frausto said.
Going into the fight, Frausto’s mental game has been a strength. Regardless of who is in front of her, Frausto knows nobody can stop her. Through preparation, power and an unbeatable mindset, she looks to end her opponent once again.
“I always prepare to be the best athlete out there,” she said. “I’d like to finish her in the first round, and I feel like the visualization that I’ve been doing for this fight and I’m very capable of doing that. I’m a heavy striker and a lot of people don’t like to get hit and I’m pretty good at making girls make mistakes because of that.”
Frausto believes a strong will and strong mind will get her through her next opponent.
That level of discipline and mind-over-matter mentality wasn’t developed overnight. It took years of training, fights in the octagon and some tough injuries to make Frausto into the champion she is today.
Frausto suffered two knee injuries that truly shaped. The first happened on November 11, 2011. Frausto was in a grappling tournament when she heard a pop, but continued despite the injury.
“I went to take a girl down and my knee just popped, I was screaming in the middle of the round. I ended up finishing and winning the entire tournament with a torn ACL. I didn’t know at the time, but I knew something was wrong after I heard a pop,” Frausto said. “The athlete in me wanted to finish, so I finished the tournament.
“I think it was the adrenaline more than anything else. I couldn’t feel it at the time.”
A couple days later, an MRI she found out the news her knee was injured.
The second injury November 11, 2017, exactly six years later, Frausto was in Thailand getting ready for a fight.
“I was preparing for a fight and I was sparring, and two heavyweights were sparring a little too close to us,” she said. “They got warned once they were getting too close, they got warned twice and the third time one took the other down and they both landed on my knee, tearing my ACL,” Frausto said. “It was a rough one, a freak accident and it could’ve been avoided. There was nothing I could do at the time.”
She had to learn to how to move laterally and move forward, Frausto had to start at the beginning to get back to where she is now.
“In order to do it, it takes patience, a strong mind and a strong will,” Frausto said.
The process of coming back not only once, but twice made her stronger than ever.
As a fighter who relies on her athleticism and power, along with her mental ability, having the confidence to go through anybody, anywhere is tough to beat.
“There was a lot of good that came with it, but I had to look at it in the right way too,” she said. “ A lot of people will look at the negatives about whether or not they can come back or if they can do it and I went into these surgeries with a strong mind and the willingness to get back to where I was.”
But there were bad days for Frausto, just like all professional athletes who have to fight and claw to get back to their normal selves. Not just the professional side of competing, but the day-to-day life having to be on crutches for months and having to shy away from using your lower body.
But, Frausto isn’t your normal athlete. She’s the very first Bellator Women’s World champion and someone who walks into the ring with the same mentality every fight against every opponent.
Expect her at her best come August 2.