Valerie Loureda doesn’t look or act like your common MMA fighter. In a sport the place girls typically have a tendency to suit a mildew— being hardened, stereotypically “powerful,” and all enterprise— Loureda is unapologetically female and can submit a video of herself dancing or posing in a bikini as shortly as she’ll knock an opponent out within the cage. She is aware of it’s not the norm, and albeit, she doesn’t care how anybody feels about it.
“If girls do it, it’s being seen as doing it for social media and doing it to be an object for males and advertising. And that’s not the case,” Loureda advised M&F Hers. “It’s not for any man, it’s for us as girls exhibiting we will be badass and beautiful and strong, and we may nonetheless be animals within the cage and know find out how to defend ourselves.”
Contemporary off a shocking TKO against Tara Graff at Bellator 243, Loureda’s professional report stands at 3-0, and he or she’s gained extra consideration than ever earlier than. She simply signed a multi-fight, multi-year contract extension with Bellator and introduced a brand new sponsorship with Important Efficiency — and he or she’s simply getting began.
Loureda’s confidence comes from a lifetime of coaching in martial arts, significantly taekwondo. It’s been nearly three years because the Miami native determined to pursue MMA, and the rising flyweight has already proved she has critical potential. Coaching out of American High Staff with fellow inspiring feminine fighters like Amanda Nunes and Joanna Jedrzejczyk actually doesn’t harm.
We spoke with Loureda to get her tackle rising in MMA, breaking stereotypes, and provoking different girls to be robust and keep true to themselves.
Plainly individuals who had been doubting you might be simply now beginning to take discover. With MMA being a historically male-dominated sport, do you are feeling that as a feminine athlete, it’s good to work tougher to show your self?
Valerie Loureda: Positively. I felt that at first of my profession, as a result of it was a male-dominated sport I felt like I needed to show myself as an athlete to my coaches and my teammates. It was very laborious to have the ability to develop in my very own sport and to rise in a male-dominated sport. It’s a must to learn to communicate to sure coaches and find out how to get via sure issues and find out how to take advantage of out of what you must attain the place I’m now.
You’ve been coaching your entire life, even on the Olympic stage. What’s it wish to lastly be getting acknowledged, and signing a contract with Bellator?
Once I first bought my contract with Bellator, I felt for the primary time the world was going to be launched to me, and that is what I’ve at all times dreamed of— to be on a platform that can enable folks to acknowledge the martial artist and the girl that I’m. Now greater than ever after this struggle, I really feel like I I’m being acknowledged for the primary time and never simply by males, however equally by girls. I’m being supported by girls and I’m being proven as an inspiration to them. And which means extra to me than anything.
You’re unapologetically your self, being totally different than what’s anticipated exterior the cage, which is superior. What recommendation would you’ve gotten for different feminine athletes who possibly really feel like they’ve to suit right into a mildew to be taken severely of their sport?
I’d say don’t take heed to what anyone has to say about you, as a result of you must be your self and keep true to your self as a way to be acknowledged by the world. And if I’d have listened to what anyone stated about me, I wouldn’t be within the place the place I’m now. And simply because I don’t appear to be I’m the stereotype in my sport doesn’t imply I don’t have the identical stage and the identical expertise. So I’d inform women to remain true to themselves. Be your self, and work 100 instances tougher than everybody else in your profession. Keep true to your ardour and simply develop and shine—don’t let anyone let you know in any other case.
This 12 months is like nothing else with the pandemic. Main as much as Bellator 234, did you must tweak your coaching or discover it significantly difficult to get it completed?
Yeah. So it was very, very laborious for me and really totally different than outdated camps, however throughout quarantine I saved my weight low. I used to be consuming very wholesome throughout quarantine in order that when Bellator would name me, I’d be prepared at any time for a struggle. They known as me with three weeks discover and I hadn’t completed any sparring or actually any MMA classes. I went to American High Staff and had no females to work with, so I needed to prepare with guys who’re in decrease weight courses and do a small camp like that. I made probably the most of what I had, however I’ve been doing this since I used to be little and I simply trusted my expertise and I trusted my laborious work for all these years that I’d have the ability to pull it off.
When do you assume you realized that MMA is that house you wished to maneuver into and pursue?
I spotted this about three and a half years in the past. You realize, the primary time I noticed MMA on TV, I actually didn’t know what it was. I simply knew it was cage preventing, however I wasn’t conscious of something. And I bear in mind the primary time I noticed a lady MMA preventing within the cage, I had goosebumps and I appeared to my sister and stated, “Nancy, I may do this.” I had by no means taken a jiu-jitsu class in my life, however one thing simply from it advised me, “You’re meant to try this. And also you’re meant to be a star doing that.” The following week I used to be in a jiu-jitsu class after which now I’m right here three years later. However from the primary second I had a intestine intuition that I used to be born for that. And that’s precisely the way it performed out.
Do you’ve gotten any ideas for individuals who do need to get began in MMA however are hesitant? Particularly girls, when you present up at a health club and it’s largely guys.
I believe for ladies, one of many greatest issues martial arts teaches you, generally, is confidence. You realize, with confidence, you are able to do issues. I’ve at all times been the one woman in my class, all stuffed with males— for instance, boxing— however I’ve the arrogance to try this. For a lady who need to get began, I’d say begin with boxing as a result of I really feel like boxing is a large stress reduction for lots of ladies.
I used to show kickboxing earlier than my contract, and I noticed the way in which these girls, their lives had been modified with boxing and kickboxing. So begin with kickboxing and you already know, eat wholesome. After which afterward you might go into wrestling and simply little by little bit. At all times keep true to your self, and deal with your pores and skin. In MMA, there’s plenty of infections and stuff like that, so deal with your pores and skin, keep true to your self and, and simply work actually laborious.
Do you’ve gotten any basic type of diet guidelines that you just at all times stick with, or nutritional vitamins and dietary supplements which might be your go-tos?
I’m very large on my routine with my nutritional vitamins, my dietary supplements and, and my diet. So I do eat wholesome, and I don’t eat plenty of carbs. But when there’s one thing I’m very disciplined with, it’s my nutritional vitamins and my blood work is basically essential to me.
Daily I work out, and after each exercise I take advantage of Vital Performance Recover. I really like guava lime— it jogs my memory of Miami. After each coaching session, I at all times do this to ensure I’m good for the subsequent one. You realize, it actually helps my physique and my restoration. The amino acids, and the whole lot has been wonderful for, for my coaching.
That’s type of how I’ve been in a position to do that camp so shortly for the struggle. I’ve been utilizing their merchandise since earlier than I used to be sponsored. Now that I’m sponsored, I’m excited to truly present proof that their merchandise work and the way they’ve helped me in my restoration for my subsequent exercise.
What’s subsequent in your profession, and when do you hope to struggle once more?
If all goes nicely, I need to struggle once more in December and maintain proving folks improper. The extra I struggle, they’re beginning to acknowledge that I’m actual and that they should cope with it. And I’m simply going to maintain being an inspiration to different girls and different younger women. I need them to not be frightened of my sport as a result of they’re scared to get harm. I need them to have an interest to allow them to be taught to defend themselves and develop that confidence that I really feel like all girls want. In order that’s actually my message, and the extra I struggle, the extra I develop and construct a platform to indicate the world who I’m.