You might say Bellator 201’s Valerie Letourneau is just a little bit peeved at not getting a title shot against Ilima-Lei MacFarlane. You might, but that would be something of an understatement.
When former UFC strawweight title challenger Valerie Letourneau signed on with Bellator MMA and joined the flyweight division, many expected an instant title shot. Certainly, after a win against Kate Jackson in her promotional debut last year in Newcastle, it felt like the Canadian would be next for 125lb champ Ilima-Lei MacFarlane. Instead, Letourneau is fighting hot rookie Kristina Williams, while Alejandra Lara gets the title shot this Friday at Bellator 201.
It’s something Letournaeu admits she was surprised by, and she was a tad ticked off at being forced to sit seven months waiting for a title shot that never materialized. Letourneau addressed the snub with the media Wednesday ahead of Bellator 201.
“I had word before that I was most likely going to fight for the title,” she recalled of what transpired following her debut at Bellator 191. “I was going to fight Ilima. So I was getting ready for this, and even started switching my training to fight her. Not that I’m the only one that deserves this, [but] because that was the word that had been spread.”
However, it wasn’t to be. Though it’s still the fight she’s looking for. “That’s definitely the fight that I want. I don’t care who’s going to win the belt this weekend. This is the person [whoever is champion] I want to fight next.”
Asked by Cageside Press’ Gabriel Gonzalez about a lower-profile fighter like Lara getting the shot, Letourneau admitted to being taken aback. “I was surprised [it was] her. Honestly I don’t know anything about her,” she said. “I’ve never seen her fight before. I don’t know. I don’t know if she’s good or not.”
The veteran admits that “the sport is a new sport, and the way they teach now, they improve so much faster than for us ten years ago.” There’s no more driving ten hours to find a coach for a specific discipline, for example. And so “there’s some surprising athletes sometimes popping out, you don’t know their name, but they’re going to get known pretty quick. Maybe she’s one of those,” Letourneau allowed.
Even still, “there’s other girls, not just me, other girls in Bellator that I would maybe think of before this girl.”
The usually reserved ‘Trouble’ admitted to being pissed off in the end. “What made me the most upset about it — I always believed the right time was going to come, you just got to keep winning. What I was so pissed off [about], really really really mad, was I waited seven months to fight, thinking that it was going to be a championship fight.” Instead, she was booked into a three-round contest. “Why would I wait seven months for a random fight?”
“I was ready to fight after the fight in Newcastle. I had no injuries,” she explained, “I honestly could have [fought] a month after. The word was be patient, be patient, be patient. And then seven months later, this is what’s happening? So I feel like I literally just lost seven months of what I could have done, maybe two fights, and I’ve seen other girls fight two fights. I was really upset about that.”
“But I don’t like to say I deserve it more,” Valerie Letourneau finished. “All the girls are really good girls in Bellator.”
Watch the full Bellator 201 pre-fight scrum with Valerie Letourneau above. Letourneau vs. Kristina Williams airs as part of the main card Friday, June 29 on the Paramount Network.