Bellator MMA’s Latest Signing All About Appearances

Larkyn Dasch Bellator MMA
Larkyn Dasch Credit: Larkyn Dasch/Instagram

Bellator’s latest signing is all about appearances, at least to those unable to see beyond that.

It’s hard not to run with a headline like “Bellator MMA Signs Hooters Girl to Fight Valerie Loureda.” Bigger, more respected publications than this one are doing it, so why not jump on the clickbait bandwagon? And really, is it clickbait if it’s true? Good question. Yes, Bellator has signed a 22-year old Hooters employee and MMA fighter with an 0-1 record and the improbable name of Larkyn Dasch to fight promotional darling Valerie Loureda.

Yes, Dasch is attractive, and yes, so is Loureda. Let’s get that part out of the way early. Bellator seems to target female fighters with model-esque good looks. Sex sells.

On the surface, this looks like a throwback to foxy boxing. Immediately, cries arose of sloppy matchmaking. But really, Loureda is a 1-0 fighter, as a pro. She has a lifetime of martial arts experience, but only one professional bout. It was a victory, but there were obvious flaws in her game. An 0-1 fighter with an above .500 amateur career (per Tapology) isn’t anything close to a mismatch.

So why is the MMA world suddenly worried about appearances? Are we now pretending Anastasia Yankova is a world-beater? That the UFC pairing up Paige VanZant and Rachel Ostovich was about rankings and relevance?

To be very clear, that’s not a knock on any of these fighters. However, Dasch is getting the short end of the stick here. Probably because of a photo that made the rounds showing her signing her Bellator deal in her Hooters uniform.

Look, plenty of fighters, far more prominent than Dasch, work day jobs. That’s the sad reality of MMA, even at the highest levels. Maybe a change of outfit before putting pen to paper would have been a better idea. But a visit to her Instagram tells a different story. First off, many sites have ignored Dasch’s words, and focused on her appearance.

I have officially signed a contract with @bellatormma for Bellator 222 and will be fighting at Madison Square Garden next Friday!!,” she wrote. “This was so last minute I actually signed the contract while I was at work at my side job at @taylor_hooters as a Hooters girl!!”

“Best wishes to my opponent but I am in amazing shape, am already on weight and ready to go to war.”

The rest of Dasch’s Instagram looks just like that of any other fighter. Fight shots, training shots, weigh-in shots, and yes, some attractive selfies.

The real question headlines should be asking is why this fight was signed so last minute. Was another opponent lined up for Loureda, and fell through? But no, let’s all focus on a pretty girl in a Hooters uniform. Because this is all about appearances. At least to some of us.

Bellator 222 takes place June 14, 2019 at Madison Square Garden in New York City. Rory MacDonald vs. Neiman Gracie, and Lyoto Machida vs. Chael Sonnen are among the key bouts on the card.