Zoila Frausto holds a few notable distinctions inside the cage.
She was the first fighter to score a win over Japanese legend Megumi Fujii. She remains the only woman ever to hold a Bellator MMA championship. Now, the “Warrior Princess” has her sights set on UFC strawweight champion Joanna Jedrzejczyk.
Sherdog.com recently caught up with Frausto as she prepared for her RFA 31 bout against Jocelyn Jones-Lybarger. The two will square off in one of the featured bouts of the evening at the Downtown Las Vegas Events Center on Friday.
Editor’s note: This interview was conducted before Frausto missed weight for her bout at RFA 31.
Sherdog.com: You are set to fight Jocelyn Jones-Lybarger here in Vegas on Saturday. She’s been very active and has won three straight, all in the RFA. What are your thoughts on her?
Frausto: I haven’t watched any of her fights at all, actually. I don’t think I need to watch anybody’s fights. I’m going to go out there and fight my fight, and I don’t think I need to watch any tapes to do that.
Sherdog.com: You’ve been out of MMA for almost two full years. You did some muay Thai in 2014, but it’s been over a full year since your last bout. Is there a particular reason why you’ve not been active?
Frausto: I’ve had a lot of personal things going on, and I had moved from Ohio to California. There were some goals I had in muay Thai that I wanted to achieve, and then I got the call from the RFA to come back to MMA.
Sherdog.com: When you won the Bellator title, you went through a murderer’s row of fighters. In that tournament, you beat Jessica Penne, Jessica Aguilar and Megumi Fujii. For whatever reason, it’s hardly ever talked about even in today’s MMA climate with Ronda Rousey’s popularity. Why do you think that is?
Frausto: I think there are a lot of reasons for that. Ronda has made a big splash in women’s MMA, but we were still under the radar back then and a lot of people didn’t even know about it. I mean, we knew how huge it was, but nobody really knew Bellator back then like they do now. Many people don’t even know that they had the women’s tournament. Ronda has certainly brought this sport to the forefront, though.
Sherdog.com: Quite a few experts feel that Fujii is the best woman to ever compete in MMA. The win over her is clearly your career high point up to now. Unfortunately, almost nobody Stateside knows who she is.
Frausto: That’s so true. Most people don’t know anything about her or what she had done up to that point, but her accomplishments speak for themselves. All those finishes... It was amazing what she had done, but she’s not recognized for it. It’s a shame, really.
Sherdog.com: When you beat her, did you know right then how big of a deal it was?
Frausto: Oh, I understood how big of a deal it was. Just to go in there and share the ring with her was an honor. Going in, I was just going to fight her because I didn’t really know what to expect. I was bigger and stronger than her, but I knew that all it took was one little mistake and that was it. She had so many tricks up her sleeve. One mistake and, just like everybody else before me, I was done. She took me down only once, but to stand in there and do what I did, to be that successful against her, it was such an honor. Nobody had gotten out of round one with her and I got out round one, round two, round three... It was my biggest accomplishment yet.
Sherdog.com: You continued to win after the Fujii fight, but you eventually tore your knee. After you had your knee was repaired, you came back and beat Casey Noland. But following that win, you went on a skid where you lost three in a row. What happened?
Frausto: It had nothing to do with the injury or anything like that. Most of it had to do with what was going on in my personal life. For whatever reason, I believed that my time was done and I was fighting a lot of personal demons at that time. What I was surrounded with wasn’t good, but I didn’t realize it then. I thought maybe it was time to retire. The way I was thinking really wasn’t who I really was, so I eventually got out of there.
I lost those fights fair and square, and those women were better women on those dates. But if I ever got those women again, it would be a totally different outcome.
Sherdog.com: What are your immediate plans now that you’re back in MMA?
Frausto: Everybody knows why I’m moving down to 115 pounds. I’m not going there just to fight here and there or just to play around. My goal is to get back to the very top where I once was and to stay there for a very long time. And I don’t plan on taking more than three years to do that, that’s for sure. I am not looking past Jocelyn at all, but I have big goals and nobody can stand in my way to get there.
Sherdog.com: How far away do you feel you are from getting not only into the UFC, but getting a crack at Joanna Jedrzejczyk?
Frausto: I’m ready. I’ve been ready. Yes, I took some time off to do some muay Thai, but I’ve always been messing around with my fly ground game and some serious wrestling. If the UFC calls me in, like, four weeks, two weeks to fight Joanna, I’m ready and I’ll take it in a heartbeat.