Bellator 222: Valerie Loureda Respects Opponent Grinding to Make Dreams Come True, Has Her Own Hooters-Style Work History

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Larkyn Dasch isn’t the only fighter who worked a day job ahead of Bellator 222, as Valerie Loureda has her own Hooters-esque history.

New York, NY — Come Friday at Bellator 222, Valerie Loureda will have two pro fights under her belt in mixed martial arts. Yet for the Taekwondo prodigy, the talk has almost always been about image. Hers, her opponents, what they’re wearing. Welcome to the fight game.

Of course, it didn’t help matters that Bellator 222 opponent Larkyn Dasch signed her Bellator contract wearing a Hooters uniform. The fact that it blew up the way it, did, however, became almost comical. Dasch after all is far from the only fighter to work a day job. And Loureda can relate, she told Cageside Press on Wednesday, at the event’s media day in New York City.

“I was annoyed by that, that people are paying so much attention to it, but I understand,” Loureda said about Dasch posting a photo of her contract signing, dolled up in Hooters attire. “Literally four months ago I was waitressing at a Tijuana Taxi, basically like Hooters, in order to pay rent to train at American Top Team in Coconut Creek. So I understand, I admire her for grinding and doing what she has to do to make her dreams come true.”

Yes, the uniforms are similar. Should it matter? The media attention (read our take on it here), however, is something Loureda doesn’t get. “I don’t see why it has to be the headline of everything, but if that’s the way they want to take it, I can dress up in a Hooter’s costume and do it better than she does.”

Well, Loureda is nothing if not competitive. And the headlines are tough to avoid for a pair of fighters with just two pro bouts between them.

Earlier, she explained that not much had changed since her pro debut win earlier in the year, despite Loureda getting the star treatment. “You know, it feels natural to me, it feels normal, it feels meant to be,” she said. “Really my main focus is training hard and having my camp and never missing a sparring or wrestling. So that’s really where my focus is at. I don’t really care about the rest, I care about my performance in the cage. Nothing else matters.”

Except family. Her family was on hand for the Bellator 222 media day. They were on hand for her debut back in February in Connecticut. Her sister will be in her corner. “I live for my sisters and my mom,” said Loureda. “My sister has basically been in my corner [for] Taekwondo my whole life, so I really don’t feel comfortable without her anywhere. She’s always here with me.” It’s a comfort thing, and Loureda can definitely hear her sister in her corner. Plus, she gets to be a role model for her little sister.

As for Dasch, yes, she works at Hooters. But Loureda’s take is simple. “I had five girls back out before this fight. She was very last minute. I know she’s a lefty, and every woman in this sport is hard, and she has a pro fight and more amateur experience than I do. I’m like why not, let’s fight.”

Bellator 222 takes place Friday, June 14 at the famed Madison Square Garden in New York, NY.

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