Bellator’s 20-year-old Valerie Loureda recently made her pro MMA debut at Bellator 216 in February. And has since fought again at Bellator 222, coming out victorious in both bouts.

It almost seems as though Loureda bursted onto the MMA scene out on nowhere.

So where did she come from?

Loureda was born into a family full of Taekwondo specialists in Miami, Florida. She was born in 1998 and began training Taekwondo with her father when she was just a toddler. Her first shot at a Taekwondo blackbelt came when she was still in the womb. Her mother, Milagros, or ‘Mily’, tested for her Taekwondo blackbelt while pregnant with Valerie.

Her father, ‘Grandmaster Frank’, born Francisco, began training in Taekwondo at the age of 5. Ten years later, he moved to the United States, where he started teaching an after-school Taekwondo class at W.R. Thomas Middle School in Miami-Dade County. He taught the program for 15 years before opening up his own Taekwondo school in 1992. His school has been regarded as one of the best martial arts schools in the Miami area for many years. ‘Grandmaster Frank’ is an eighth-degree Taekwondo blackbelt himself.

Valerie has trained alongside her father and learned most of her technique from him. She is currently a fourth-degree Taekwondo blackbelt.

As she continued learning and practicing the discipline of Taekwondo each day, she began to find interest in MMA. She began to notice that her Taekwondo competition was becoming more of a point-based system and she had more of a ‘finishing’ style.

Loureda began paying more attention to MMA fights and believed that this was something that she could do.

By the age of 15, she had already received her ‘Master’ status in Taekwondo, a very high honor only awarded to the highest caliber, Olympic-level practitioners. She was doing very well and preparing for the Olympic qualifier, when life decided to hit very hard on her family.

Her Olympic-Taekwondo dreams were put on-hold when Loureda’s mother, Milagros, was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia. She went through two rounds of this disease, between different levels of treatment, including chemotherapy and an eventual bone marrow transplant which saved her life.

During that time, Valerie took on the role of being a mother. She took full care of her two sisters, Natalie and Francesca. Both of which are also highly skilled in Taekwondo; Natalie holds a fourth-degree blackbelt and Francesca is a blackbelt also. Shortly after, Valerie was able to transition her focus back into MMA. She dove into the amateur MMA circuit, taking 3 fights and landing a 2-1 record. Her only loss was by split decision.

Loureda signed with Bellator MMA and quickly debuted in the first quarter of 2019. She made her professional debut at Bellator 216, at the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Connecticut. She fought fellow flyweight Colby ‘Dreamcatcher’ Fletcher on the preliminary card and won the fight by first-round TKO.

Following that, Loureda was scheduled for another fight at Bellator 222 in New York. The venue was the legendary Madison Square Garden arena. Her opponent was another recent Bellator signee, Larkyn Dasch. Loureda fought through three rounds and managed to pick up a unanimous decision victory over Dasch.

What could be next for rising star Valerie Loureda? Only time will tell.

One thing we do know: the future is bright for young Loureda, Taekwondo Master, and now Bellator prospect out of Miami, Florida.

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The Scrap’s Kevin Mahoney is a college graduate from Salem State University who loves to write, make music, and watch MMA. Make sure to follow Kevin on Twitter (@KeysRealTalk) and listen to his Lee N Keys Real Talk Podcast every Wednesday on BlogTalkRadio.

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