What many saw as a mismatch at Bellator 201 on Friday was closer than almost anyone imagined, as Kristina Williams put on a spirited battle against veteran Valerie Letourneau.
A key flyweight battle unfolded at Bellator 201 in Temecula, CA on Friday night. And no, it wasn’t the main event (well, not only that anyway). Many had expected former UFC strawweight title challenger Valerie Letourneau to be fast tracked to a title shot in Bellator when she joined the promotion last year. Instead, she faced the up-and-coming Kristina Williams on the main card of Bellator 201.
The winner of the bout, mind you, was pretty much a lock to face the champion next.
An early exchange of kicks set the tone for Letourneau vs. Williams. At least the early going was a back-and-forth affair. Despite boasting just two professional fights, Williams wasn’t about the back down. Even when the Canadian connected with a right hand within the first minute. Then, it was Williams scoring a knockdown near the two minute mark, drawing gasps from the crowd. Williams, however, chose not to follow up.
Yet Williams was herself rocked and dropped moments later, and unlike ‘Warhorse,’ Valerie Letourneau didn’t hesitate. She pounced on Williams, unloading with ground n’ pound while Williams slowly recovered and closed her guard. Williams would look for an arm-bar, but unable to get in the proper position, she reverted to throwing elbows from the bottom. With a body triangle locked in by Williams, trapping Letourneau in guard, the ref stood the pair up, with just seconds left in the round.
— Bellator MMA (@BellatorMMA) June 30, 2018
Williams tripped up her more experienced opponent with leg kicks early in the second. She looked to fight at range, making distance with push kicks and jabs. Valerie was happy to answer back, but she would clearly rather close the distance. Williams was losing the striking game, eating counters, with Letourneau outdoing her in the volume department. Yet when she did stand in the pocket and throw, Williams strikes were effective. In the second half of the round, Williams turned her aggression up a notch, pressing the action, working in some dirty boxing and even grabbing her opponent’s head to land blows. Mixing in side kicks, back kicks, elbows, and seeming to loosen up, Williams closed strong, though she’d eat a punch from Letourneau that would bloody her nose. Still, Williams may have won the round.
Round three started with a firefight. Williams and Letourneau opted to stand and trade, unleashing a vicious flurry of strikes that saw both women land heavy blows. Williams was still bleeding from the previous round, but added in some nasty elbows that certainly got Letourneau’s attention. The Canadian opted to shoot for a takedown, moving to guard and staying active with punches to the body and head. Williams needed to find a way out but instead fell back on her closed guard. With a minute left the ref would stand them up; Williams needed to unleash a final barrage if she could, but her attempts were stymied, and instead she wound up on her back again, looking for a guillotine that wasn’t there.
Valerie Letourneau would capture the win on the judge’s scorecards, and likely punched her ticket to a title fight against the winner of Macfarlane vs. Lara later in the evening. Yet even in a loss, Kristina Williams proved her value as a member of Bellator’s flyweight class. With some more seasoning, she remains one to watch.
“Hey, I’ve been waiting seven months for this friggin’ fight,” Letourneau told Bellator’s Big John McCarthy in the cage after the bout. “Give me that title shot!”
Valerie Letourneau def. Kristina Williams by unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)