From warm-up fighter to champion
For The Madera Tribune
Former Madera grad preparing for Feb. 22 MMA fight at the Save Mart Center
She just wanted an opportunity to fight. It didn’t matter who it was against, didn’t matter where it was, Zoila Frausto wanted to showcase her ability, not just for friends and family, but for herself.
Frausto wound up in Fort Lauderdale Florida in 2010 to fight, however her job description warranted her to warming up another fighter. That fighter — Rosi Sexton from Manchester, England — was ranked No.1 in the world at 125 pounds and ranked third in the world pound-for-pound.
The eight-women tournament was only a means to get a look for Frausto, but things quickly changed when she finally got into the ring to face off with Sexton.
“I ended up going in there and knocking her out in the first round. That was at 120 pounds, so they asked me if I wanted her spot in the tournament and I figured might as well,” Frausto said. “So, I took her spot in the tournament.”
Despite the lack of experience and preparation time, Frausto relied on her mental and physical strength to shock the world and claim the inaugural, Bellator Women’s World Championship. Frausto faced four world-class opponents, including the championship fight against the top-ranked pound-for-pound fighter in the world, Megumi Fujii who had a 22-0 record.
“I went into that final fight a huge underdog, nobody expected me to come out on top,” Frausto said. “I ended up beating her and I only got taken down once during the entire fight. She was a legend at the time and it was just unreal for me. Everything I’ve sacrificed and put into it, to become Bellator’s first women’s titleholder in that huge tournament was something I can’t even describe. Every time I think about it, I get goosebumps.”
Frausto will continue her career after a brief hiatus in a bout on Feb. 22 in the Combate Americas’ “Mexico vs. USA” event at the Save Mart Center. She will be a part of the co-main event against Jaimee Nievera. The fight will be shown live on Dazn and Univision.
Zoila’s sister Stephanie Frausto, had high praise for her sibling, who became a world champion despite the naysayers. Frausto is an accomplished fighter, herself, with four championships, including a WBC Mexican Muay Thai Championship and IKKC International Champion.
“Even in adversity she has overcome all the doubt that was put on her,” Stephanie said. “Even though she was only paid a fraction of what the men receive for that tournament, Zoila put in more work, cut a tremendous amount of weight and has proven to be able to sacrifice and has what it takes to be the champion of the world.”
Over a decade in MMA, Zoila has added an IKKC Muay Thai World Championship and a WBC National Muay Thai Championship. Her aggressive nature in the cage has proved to be a productive style after three championship belts, but her time as a youth growing up in Madera shaped the fighter, she sees every day.
“It started with me as a child growing up. My parents were really big on making sure I was really busy with school and sports. I played pretty much every sport and that helped a lot in terms of me becoming a professional athlete because I was already disciplined.”
Frausto was a four-year varsity letterman at Madera High School in cross country, track and field and soccer. She graduated and went to Fresno City for soccer where she continued to have success.
Although Frausto enjoyed many good moments at Madera and, later Fresno City, she felt a need to push herself. Playing and winning as a team was a great feeling, but Frausto wanted to put the pressure of success and failure on her shoulders.
“By the time I was done with college ball, I needed another challenge,” Frausto said. “I’ve been an athlete all my life and my competitive nature pushed me in the direction of boxing.”
Frausto found a coach in Fresno and began her Muay Thai career. Her rapid success in the sport launched her into a career as a fighter. She went on to win three championship belts.
Despite the adversity faced inside the cage, Frausto admitted cutting weight was the hardest part.
“The weight cut for me was more of a fight than anything else because to make it at 115 pounds, when I’m walking around at 145 pounds throughout the entire college,” Frausto said. “I knew it was going to be rough and I ended up barely making it each time.”
Now a free agent and back after a brief hiatus, Frausto is awaiting her next opportunity on Feb. 22 at the Savemart Center where she looks to get back into the fray.