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'I'm the face of women's MMA': Valerie Loureda aims high ahead of Bellator return

'I'm the face of women's MMA': Valerie Loureda aims high ahead of Bellator return
Despite having just one pro fight under her belt, 20-year-old Florida native Valerie Loureda is setting her sights high as she announced herself as "the face of women's MMA" ahead of her second Bellator bout this Friday.

Former taekwondo ace Loureda made her MMA debut under the Bellator banner in February, recording a TKO victory over fellow American Colby Fletcher.

Apart from the first-round win, the Miami native caught the attention of fight fans with the emotional post-fight interview she gave while wearing her taekwondo Gi, in a heavy nod to her martial arts background.

Now, five month later, she will step into the Bellator cage again, this time in New York City's iconic Madison Square Garden, in a bout with fellow prospect Larkyn Dasch.

It may be only her second bout, but the ambitious fighter is already eyeing the championship belt as well as the unofficial title of the face of women's MMA. 

"I don't see how it's gonna take me long to win the Bellator belt, I am here to conquer, I am here to take over Bellator," Loureda told mmafighting.com at a recent media day.

I am the Bellator girl, I am the face of women's MMA

"And that belt will be mine soon, I am 20 years old, I am turning 21 next month. I have a long length, I have a lot of time in the sport, which a lot of women don't have, and that's the biggest advantage in my career," she added.     

In the build-up to the fight, much has been made of the day job of Loureda's opponent, after Dasch was pictured signing the bout agreement at her work place – a Hooters restaurant. 

But Loureda herself says that it didn't surprise her, as many upcoming fighters have part-time jobs, while also revealing that at one point she had even considered a job at the same restaurant chain.

"I am annoyed because... I guess it's Hooters, you know. I almost became a Hooters girl at one point. It would have been funny. But I admire her for working her part-time job and training, because that was me a few months ago, before Bellator gave me this opportunity. So I really admire her for pursuing her dreams and doing what she has to do to make it," Loureda said.

Pursuing her dreams is exactly what Loureda herself is doing, and Friday night in New York will be one more step towards trying to make them reality.