Bellator flyweight Valerie Loureda speaks on adversity, and fighting to continue to inspire young females.
Valerie Loureda is coming off yet another big victory, a buzzer beater knockout of Bellator 243 opponent Tara Graff. Loureda was all smiles post-fight, but it wasn’t the easiest of roads to victory. A car crash on the night before her flight to Connecticut made for an unplanned detour — but for Loureda adversity is nothing new.
“I arrived in Connecticut Sunday to quarantine, the car accident happened on Saturday night,” Loureda told Cageside Press. “I finished my training at American Top Team, on the way back home on the highway this huge tow truck was speeding and he tried to pass me, merging,” Loureda continued. “He hit the back of my car and I spun into the railing, nearly went over it, it was just scary. I’m strong but my emotions were messed up before this for reasons I don’t want to discuss. I didn’t know if I could overcome all of it and transfer it to the fight but I took out all that aggression on Tara.”
Although she is happy to be getting a new car this week, Loureda admits that this may have been the hardest emotional rollercoaster leading into a fight for a multitude of reasons. She even called her manager, Abraham Kawa, and debated pulling out of the fight a week prior to the event.
“I had a huge problem happen that I can’t speak about yet. I called my manager and said ‘I think I need to pull out,'” Loureda recalled. “Two hours after this Bellator had posted my fight officially, and I didn’t know what to do. Before I made any crazy decisions I spoke with my manager’s sister and she spoke sense into me,” Loureda continued. “She told me don’t let anyone take away your dream from you, so I took control of my life and used those emotions to face the adversity.”
Loureda had not competed since Bellator 222, her second professional fight. It wasn’t just a car accident the day before leaving, or a major incident that almost caused her to pull out of Bellator 243: the whole year was filled with adversity for the 22 year old. Including in January, when she pulled out of her fight with Tara Graff due to an MCL injury. Loureda said it was hard to deal with Graff’s subsequent harassment.
“Since January, when I tore my MCL I was going to fight with that too, because I make stupid decisions, but I obviously couldn’t,” Loureda laughed. “My parents were going through a huge divorce. My mind was not there for that fight, I was only 21 years old— why rush myself into that? I wasn’t healthy physically or mentally,” Loureda continued. “Everyday since I backed out of that fight that stupid girl has harassed me on Twitter or Instagram.”
The last year plus had been tough on the Miami native. While most 22 year olds are living decently care free, relishing the party life before the real world comes calling, Loureda is a professional fighter. As most often forget, professional fighters have personal lives as well, and just like the rest of us things can go downhill at points. Loureda is proud of herself for overcoming so much, and she should be.
“This past year showed me so much about myself, how strong my mind is, my work ethic,” Loureda told Cageside Press. “Apart from everything I went through an eating disorder from cutting weight. I just went through so much, it would have been so easy to quit, at my age to just throw in the towel,” Loureda continued. “I found a way to get up from all of it, stay true to myself, and this performance showed me everything. I know I’m only 3-0 and Tara isn’t [Ilima-Lei Macfarlane], but I was born to be a champion.”
Graff had made numerous comments leading up to fight week that Loureda was ‘demoralizing to the sport’ and even making comments that the 22 year old is ‘trashy’. Loureda saw everything, but acted as though she had no idea. Instead Loureda remained calm and waited for the moment that mattered most, fight night.
“Oh my god, the thing is I’m crazy,” Loureda laughed. “I’m an emotional person and I’m an emotional fighter. If I responded to her I was going to let it get to me in the cage, my manager told me to focus on fighting. I promise you every single day I pictured the moment I got to destroy her face.”
Loureda’s post-fight victory dance went viral; after finishing her opponent, the undefeated fighter let the world watch her perform. When asked if the dance was planned or an explosion of emotion, Loureda’s answer was simple: it was for all of the haters. The haters don’t bother her, the support is what Loureda sees.
“The post fight dance was to piss off everyone on Twitter, and that UFC girl Macy [Chiasson],” Loureda exclaimed. “Who is anyone to tell me what I can or can’t post while being a fighter? I have gained more female followers than I have ever seen before. Females matter to me, young girls and mothers are DM’ing me saying I’m an inspiration for them,” Loureda continued. “That is what I live for, what drives me, female image. This is who I am, this isn’t an act. The support I have from women, I cried yesterday seeing the support I have. I won’t stop until I’m the biggest face in MMA.”
Loureda has a message for those who look up to her:
“Stay true to yourself. There are no stereotypes. You don’t have to look a certain way to be in an industry,” Loureda stated. “I’m in a male dominated industry, be yourself. Don’t let any man or anybody try to control your life. I’ve always stayed true to myself and my goals. I was bullied in school, laughed at with my gallon of water and tuna sandwich while cutting weight, so please stay true to yourself and your goals. Keep pushing never stop.”
Loureda calls this fight a turning point for her career, and the most rewarding of her career. Her knockout power is prevalent, and even proved her coaches wrong. It has reaffirmed the belief she’s had, ever since she was little, that fighting is what she was born to do.