Valerie Loureda is headed to pro wrestling.
On Monday’s edition of The MMA Hour, the Bellator star announced she has signed a contract with WWE and is done with MMA.
“I have now become the first Cuban-American woman and I am now a WWE superstar,” an emotional Loureda told Ariel Helwani. “I’m really excited, and I’ve dedicated my whole life to martial arts, and everything has come to this moment. And this is my opportunity to showcase my culture and entertain the world.
“I’m emotional because I’ve worked really hard in my whole life. I’ve had a very hard upbringing, and every day, I’ve always just believed in myself, and trained hard hoping to make it to the next step and just chasing a dream that I’ve had in my heart since I was a baby.”
Bellator President Scott Coker released a statement to MMA Fighting on Loureda’s move.
“Valerie Loureda is a very young and talented athlete who can accomplish plenty in MMA for years to come, but for now we wish her the best of luck as she pursues her dream of becoming a WWE Superstar,” Coker stated. “She will remain an active and under contract fighter with Bellator, and we look forward to welcoming her back into the cage in the near future. We take great pride in allowing our athletes to test themselves in additional arenas such as boxing and pro-wrestling.”
With her WWE deal inked, however, Loureda said she was done fighting and thanked Bellator executives for their support in her journey.
“Scott Coker and Mike Kogan, Rich Chou, they believed in me when I was 19 years old,” Loureda said of Bellator executives. “My first professional fight was without shinguards at the Mohegan Sun. opening a main card. They gave me an opportunity opening a main card. They gave me an opportunity to brand myself and build this platform and just be me. Now, I’m making this transition, and my mind has shifted, but I know what I’m going to do in the WWE. ...
“I love fighting, but this is my time.”
Loureda attended WWE tryouts in April before Wrestlemania 38. The 23-year-old former taekwondo competitor reportedly impressed WWE brass, according to Fightful Select, and was expected to report to the promotion’s Performance Center in July for training.
The new venture signals a shift for Loureda’s combat sports career, which started in taekwondo competition and led to a contract with Bellator. She earned a record of 4-1 in the Paramount-owned MMA promotion, most recently earning a split decision win over Taylor Turner at Bellator 271 to bounce back from her first pro loss, a decision setback against Hannah Guy at Belllator 259.
In previous interviews, Loureda said she was focused on building her MMA career and personal brand with Bellator. But after attending the WWE tryouts, she mused about bringing her entertainment skills into the squared circle.
Known for her racy social media presence and post-fight dance routines, Loureda has masterfully captured MMA fans’ attention in a short professional career.