Taekwondo is not about points in MMA.
That is what Valerie Loureda is hoping to prove when she makes her Bellator debut this Saturday in Connecticut, which will air on Paramount Network and stream on DAZN. She will face Colby Fletcher in her professional debut.
“I feel people confuse Olympic Taekwondo with traditional Taekwondo,” Loureda explained to us. “I grew up with traditional Taekwondo and it is very rough, it is very difficult, and it’s very hardcore. I think there is a miscommunication that this is points fighting, but it’s not. I want to show people real Taekwondo. The type that knocks you out with one strike.”
The decision to turn to MMA instead of the Olympics was an easy one for Loureda. Compiled with wanting to represent her sport in a traditional way, she also wanted the challenge to prove her technique and improve as a fighter.
This lead her to one of the top gyms in the country, American Top Team, currently home of a solid women’s team, including double champion Amanda Nunes and former champion Joanna Jedrzejczyk.
“It is such a challenge to to train with all of these professional fighters; to be able to grapple with them and learn something every day and take that into my training and grappling.”
“The first time I trained with Joanna (Jedrzejczyk) I was so honored because she is so down to earth and one of the best in the world. (All the female fighters) are so open and willing to train with me and help me. When I train with them I tell them “hit me as hard as you want” do whatever you have to do (to get ready) for your fight.”
Coming off a 2-1 record as an amateur, she went the distance in all three fights. Something that was a learning experience for her.
“That is something I am grateful for. Each one of those fights I went three rounds of three minutes and I felt fresh. I felt I could keep fighting. I was learning patience. I was learning endurance, which is a big change from Taekwondo, which is being explosive for two minutes.”
Unlike her amateur fights, Loureda is expecting to make a quick impression Friday.
“I was being caution with those (amateur) fights. I believe I will finish her in the first round. “