Earlier on Friday night, Monster Energy’s Loureda (3-0 MMA, 3-0 BMMA) returned to the ring for a flyweight division bout against Tara “The Tiny Terror” Graff (1-2 MMA, 0-1 BMMA) from Maryland. Previous to the fight, Loureda had been sidelined from competition for 14 months, first due to an injury, then because of lockdown on MMA competitions in response to the coronavirus pandemic.
But when the bell rang at Mohegan Sun Arena, Loureda returned to full fighting form. Circling her opponent on the outside of the canvas, the rising MMA prospect controlled the pace and landed precise shots while avoiding grapples.
Towards the end of round two, Loureda increased the pressure, landing bigger shots and dismantling Graff’s defenses. Finally, Loureda dropped Graff to the matt with a punishing right hook to the chin, followed by ground-and-pound until the referee ended the fight at the 5:00 mark. Directly after the fight, the avid dancer known for posting viral hit videos on social media celebrated with an extended victory dance in the octagon.
In her post-fight interview at Bellator 243, Loureda dedicated her victory to, “all the girls who look like me, who dance, who want to defend themselves, who are now going to be in MMA because I’m an inspiration and they’re not scared. That’s what I stand for.”
The buzzer-beater TKO against Tara Graff marks Loureda’s first win in 2020 and second knockout victory since joining Bellator in 2019. Previous to Bellator 243, the decorated taekwondo competitor who trains at American Top Team announced plans to compete in at least three fights per year: “This Loureda is mentally a lot stronger. This Loureda that’s getting in the cage is completely different and is going to be more well-rounded in MMA, not just striking. I want to show all the talents I have in MMA.”
Congratulations to both Monster Energy fighters on their dominant wins at Bellator 243. Also, thanks to Bellator and Mohegan Sun for showcasing a world-class fighting event amidst the adversities of the global coronavirus pandemic.
Michael Chandler and Valerie Loureda count amongst Monster Energy’s elite MMA athletes along with Juan “The Spaniard” Archuleta, Sergio “The Phenom” Pettis, Rose Namajunas, Jon “Bones” Jones, Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone, Jorge “Gamebred” Masvidal, Chris “The All American” Weidman, Daniel Cormier, Phil Davis, Dominick “Dominator” Cruz, Tyron “The Chosen One” Woodley, Yair Rodriquez, Tony Ferguson, James Gallagher, Joanna Jędrzejczyk, Jessica-Rose Clark, Quinton “Rampage” Jackson, A.J. McKee, Aaron Pico, and Gaston Bolanos.