Valerie Loureda is a young Flyweight prospect who has everything you could ask for to be a star in this sport. The only thing she needs now is a few belts and, hopefully, a great microphone presence going forward. Her first martial art was Taekwondo; this discipline has some of the flashiest techniques we have seen in MMA. She will still have to develop her boxing and other disciplines, but her foundation alone gives her the potential to put together quite the highlight reel.
Loureda’s Short Career
So far, she has fought professionally twice. Her first opponent was Colby Fletcher. Colby had one win and two losses at the time. Loureda’s next opponent was Larkyn Dasch, who had one loss and no pro wins. While the opponents Valerie Loureda has faced certainly aren’t the best, they had an appropriate experience level for someone just starting their careers.
Bellator’s Development History
We should not criticize Bellator for giving her the fight. We should not undermine Loureda for taking the fight. Bellator is building up a young talent the proper way. There have been too many prospects who got pushed too hard, too soon and their careers were ruined.
The UFC rushes their fighters more than anyone. While it is exciting to see who is the best today, the fans and athletes miss out on a lot of potential stars because the promotion is impatient.
Aaron Pico is another Bellator talent that has faced some hardships because they pushed him too soon. He debuted against a veteran with over ten fights and got finished, what a surprise.
Valerie Loureda is a young Cuban talent living and training in Miami. She’s only 21 and has a fan-friendly fighting style. In the U.S., there are not a lot of places where a hometown will support you before national fame. Even if young fighters do get the support, their fanbase commonly has a niche ethnic foundation.
Eddie Alvarez in Philadelphia and Jorge Masvidal in Miami are pretty much the only fighters with that platform. It helps that they also have fan-friendly striking styles.
Again, she is unproven, but MMA has not seen movement and body kicks from a fighter this young since Anthony Pettis. The way she keeps balance on her pivot foot when she is throwing her kicks shows she is high level. These will be knockout blows as she continues to get stronger and more accurate. I know Loureda failed to KO Dasch in her last bout, but she caught Dasch flush as Dasch was moving forward several times. Dasch just ate those shots with ease. There was nothing more that Loureda could do.
As she gets more confident, I hope she will start sitting down more on her punches and kicks. The movement is great, but it’s hard to know how much power she really has if she never throws with full force.
Understand that a large part of her fighting style is cultural. Loureda is not afraid or timid. Cuban fighters simply make defense a priority when competing. They are trained to put defense first, and to know when to explode and when to slow the competition down. It doesn’t matter if it’s wrestling, boxing, baseball etc.
Martial Arts Foundation
Loureda’s Taekwondo training was inevitable considering her family already owned a school to teach the Korean martial art. Under her father’s supervision, she learned standard and Olympic style Taekwondo and mastered them. Her passion for improvement and attention to detail made her a precocious competitor.
After watching her win world-class competitions, her father invested more and more into her. She is now a 4th Dan Master in Taekwondo; the highest level is 9th Dan. Loureda is and was no doubt disciplined in her own right. However, her father was also strict which seems to have paid off so far.
A lot of people don’t realize that her father had her wrestling and grappling while developing world-class Taekwondo. As much as fans love flashy strikers, the ones that can’t grapple never last long. Solid grappling is really what allows striking standouts to get highlight-reel finishes.
Loureda commonly emphasizes that she wants to show that fighters can be both feminine and devastating. Before that can happen though she must show that Taekwondo talents can dominate as long as they can really grapple. Her predecessor Anthony Pettis never could demonstrate that because he had the wrong attitude regarding wrestling.
Interestingly, Loureda does not seem to share Pettis’ philosophy or upbringing. Here are her words about learning grappling during her youth, “The first jiu-jitsu class I took I felt natural. I had a natural scramble, I had a natural understanding and as I started developing in Muy-Thai and etc., I fell in love with the touch, the combat bone-to-bone aspect of MMA…”. Maintaining that attitude is what is going to make or break her career.
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