Bellator 181: Emily Ducote Excited to Add to the Flyweight Action

Emily Ducote
Credit: Dave Mandel/

Emily Ducote is one of the top flyweights in the world, and she’s excited to showcase her skills at a time when women’s MMA has never been bigger.

The Bellator flyweight division is among the most stacked in MMA and they are only growing with new additions to the roster.  However, the established ranks have no intention of stepping aside.  Flyweight contender Emily Ducote is up first, taking on former UFC strawweight standout Valerie Letourneau at Bellator 181. She spoke to Cageside Press about the division, and her upcoming bout.

Ducote is among the many notable fighters among the Bellator MMA flyweight ranks, and she is plenty aware that it a roster loaded with names and competition.  With competitors like Letourneau, Anastasia Yankova, Lena Ovchynnikova, Alejandra Lara and others, it’s safe to say that 125 is a crowded room.  Ducote is aware that she is in one of the hottest new divisions in all of mixed martial arts and she sees it as only a positive to have so much attention.

“I think they’re definitely realizing that the 125 for Bellator is a big division and they’re definitely putting a lot of effort into it.  They’re signing new girls, putting flyweight fights on almost any card, it’s awesome.”

With all of the contenders at 125, the one fighter who stands out is Ilima Lei-Macfarlane. The Hawaiian is undefeated in her career and is pegged as one of the women who will get a crack at the flyweight championship belt when it is finally on the line.  Ducote, however, fell recently to Macfarlane and was honest in evaluating where that puts her in the title picture.

“I think it’s going to be Ilima (Macfarlane) versus somebody [for the championship]. I’m not sure who. It could be when the new girls fight the established girls, see whoever wins and keep putting them together.  Then see whoever keeps winning.  There’s so many options for who she could fight, but I definitely see it as Ilima versus somebody…I haven’t given too much thought about [a rematch].  I’m really just focusing on this fight.  I think my name could definitely be in the options though, yes.”

Canadian Valerie Letourneau is one of the new additions to Bellator. She is best known for her five round effort against UFC strawweight champion Joanna Jędrzejczyk and comes to Bellator as the most high profile new addition to the flyweight ranks.  It is a huge fight for Ducote, but while “Trouble” may be on the short list for a title shot, she will have work to do to get the nod herself.

How my team and myself work is one fight, one opponent at a time.  We haven’t really talked about who’s next or what’s next.  I get asked if I think this is a title contention fight.  In my mind, maybe for Valerie if Valerie wins.  But I think I would have to get a few more wins.  I’m not looking for an immediate rematch with Ilima.  She’ll get the belt and if I keep winning and it gets matched up that’d be awesome.  But I’m not looking for an immediate rematch.  There’s so many new girls and so many other girls in the division, I’m not really obsessed with the idea of fighting Ilima again so there’s a lot of options.   For now, myself and my team, it’s only this fight that we’re focused on.

With Ducote focused only on the task at hand, it leaves plenty of time to learn about one of the hottest young prospects in the world of women’s MMA.  For a clearly toned and conditioned athlete, it is ironic that her nickname is “Gordinha” which in Portuguese is a term of endearment for one carrying a few extra pounds.

When I first found my gym and my coach I was not on a diet.  I was a little chunky when I started. I used to fight at 115 so my weight cuts would be a little hard.  So I got that nickname when I first started, being a little chunky and having a hard time cutting weight.  Since signing with Bellator and being professional I’ve gotten my diet cleaned up but that nickname is forever.

At a time when women’s MMA as a whole has never received more promotion, Ducote is at her best in the right era of the sport.  So often, female fights steal the show at an event. There are many reasons why the women’s MMA is so competitive, and even Ducote was at a bit of a loss as to the exact reason why.

I don’t know why.  But I agree the fights are exciting.  I think it’s because in this sport maybe we have something to prove so we got out there with a fire.  I’m not sure why.  But the female fights are usually really great, fast paced, a lot of action, not a lot of waiting around.  When I watch other girls fight, it really inspires me and gets me really excited.  So maybe just watching everybody put on great shows is why we come out on fire.

When asked about how she thought her fight with Letourneau will go, she would only imply that it would be the Bellator newcomer who would be in “Trouble.”

Just my style, I don’t like to do predictions.  MMA is so wild, you never know what’s going to happen.  So I don’t have a specific prediction for the fight.  Like I said, the last 10 weeks I’ve been sharpening everything up so I can say with confidence that it will be the best version of myself you have seen and I’m just very excited to get out there and fight July 14.

Emily “Gordinha” Ducote will be taking on Valerie “Trouble” Letourneau at Bellator 181 on July 14, live on Spike TV.