Valerie Loureda: Meet the new main attraction in women’s MMA (VIDEO, PHOTOS)
Loureda’s much-anticipated professional bow did not disappoint as the 20-year-old Florida native secured a first-round TKO win over Colby Fletcher in their flyweight bout at the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Connecticut.
Fittingly for the taekwondo master, it was set up by a pin-point left kick to the body before being sealed with a barrage of punches and hammer fists.
👊💥😲 @ValerieLouredaa with the hammer fists to cement her win tonight at #Bellator216.Main card is LIVE on @DAZN_USA 📲 https://t.co/nYWevM68WM 🇺🇸 & 📺 @SkySports Main Event 🇬🇧.#BellatorWGPpic.twitter.com/L3PcecW5CA— Bellator MMA (@BellatorMMA) February 17, 2019
For Loureda it was the perfect start to life in the Bellator ranks, but it was also merely the latest step on a journey that has seen the ambitious young prospect come through some testing times.
The emotion that was writ on Loureda’s face in the cage after the bout was testament to that, as she gave a tearful interview.
“This is the moment I’ve been dreaming of since I was a little girl, my whole life,” Loureda told John McCarthy, as her proud father Frank watched on tearfully.
Loureda was wearing her taekwondo gi, in honor to her martial arts beginnings and the intrinsic role the sport has had in her formation as an MMA fighter.
Loureda has grown up practicing taekwondo, and her father has been passing on his prodigious expertise as owner of Master Frank’s Taekwondo Academy in Miami for more than three decades.
Loureda herself harbored hopes of making the US Olympic team, but her dreams were sadly set aside after she stepped in to take care of her mother when she was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia several years ago, as well as looking after her sisters.
That was a fight her mother has come through, and around 18 months ago Loureda set on a new path, taking up MMA.
Her progress to Saturday night’s performance has been rapid and no less impressive.
“People truly don’t understand this is what I’ve breathed since I was a girl. This is in my blood,” she said after the fight.
“So, I was just so passionate about this moment, and I’ve been thinking about this exact moment for the past four months, since I found out I’d be fighting for Bellator.
“I’ve been scripting it in my head how it’s going to go, and how it needs to go, and I put in the work for this fight to turn out the way it did.”
Loureda’s eye-catching debut is matched by the attention she has gained from her model looks, frequently shared with her followers on social media.
But alongside her knockout appearance, Loureda showed on Saturday she can back it up in the cage - which was not lost on the MMA community online.
Loureda wins her pro debut. Given the circumstances, a lot of positives to take. Looks like maybe a liver kick dropped her opponent. Issues to work on, too, but auspicious beginning.— Luke Thomas (@lthomasnews) February 17, 2019
That Valerie Loureda victory was as heartwarming as MMA gets #Bellator216— Ben Kiely (@TheJivemaster) February 17, 2019
Bigger, tougher challenges will no doubt lie ahead for Loureda, but Saturday night may well have been the introduction of the newest main attraction in women's MMA.
Watch this space for more.