Bellator 201: “Macfarlane vs. Lara” takes place at Pechanga Resort and Casino in Temecula, Calif., this weekend (Fri., June 29, 2018), featuring a main event between undefeated women’s Flyweight champion Ilima-Lei Macfarlane (7-0) making the first defense of her belt against Alejandra Lara (7-1).
There’s another Flyweight on the card who would very much like to challenge Macfarlane for that strap and she goes by the name Valerie “Trouble” Letourneau (9-6). The former Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) contender saw a rough patch of time because of difficulty cutting to Strawweight, which ultimate led to her release. The good news is that she dominated Kate Jackson in her Bellator debut moving up to 125 pounds. It’s fair to say she might need a few more wins before she re-emerges as a championship contender, but her opponent this Friday night, Kristina Williams (2-0), won’t make that an easy task. The quiet and reserved Williams waits to unleash her fury until it’s time to fight, then she unleashes kicks that rearrange people’s faces.
MMAmania.com recently chatted with Letourneau about her next Bellator match with Williams and how she instead really wanted to face the world champion this weekend.
“She (Macfarlane) was the person I had in mind. You know I was really hoping that this fight was going to be against her and hopefully the NEXT fight is gonna be against her.”
If so, this could be considered a No. 1 title eliminator match. Williams did beat a decorated boxer and a former No. 1 contender in her first two fights, and Letourneau has been a contender before as well.
“I think she is the person I have to fight, not (because) she had so many fights but because of the way she fought and who she fought, especially winning against Emily Ducote. That’s the fight that that makes sense. That’s the fight that makes sense for me to open the door for the belt, more than Bruna Ellen.”
For those not keeping score Williams replaced Ellen because of an injury, and based on Letourneau’s comments, it seems the prefers the 2-0 Williams over the 4-1 Ellen, anyway.
“I was a little bit mad about the (Ellen) fight. I just felt like ... it’s never with disrespect to anyone (but) I just felt like this fight was not going to take me any closer to the belt and I was pretty mad about it, so (Williams) is the fight that makes more sense to me.”
Letourneau went on to offer nothing but praise for her upcoming opponent, offering the opinion that Williams is a star on the rise even if her time won’t be now in this fight.
“Absolutely. She is young, she’s gonna keep improving, she already has really good skills. She’s a natural fighter, she stands very tall when she fights, and these are important things for a fighter. You cannot teach that. You can train someone as much as you want to, but sometimes you can train for years and you’re never gonna get that, so that’s a big plus that she has.”
Just like you can’t teach someone to be seven feet tall or to have good striking and ground defense. Letourneau has both — she has knocked out four foes and she has yet to be submitted in a fight — and she likes her opponents long and strong.
“You know what’s weird? I like to fight taller fighters more than shorter fighters. I think because of the way (that) I fight, I like to fight tall, so shorter fighters they get annoying because ... they’re always under (you) for MMA going in just for takedowns. So you have to be more aware of takedowns and stuff. I mean it’s a technical thing, but that’s what it is.”
That’s another reason Letourneau is down to fight Williams this Friday. For once she has an opponent she can literally look up to, as Williams stands one inch taller at 5’8.”
“I haven’t very often fought taller fighters than me, but I have very long arms. My arms are longer than my height so I think it should be interesting — two long, lanky fighters.”
Don’t get it twisted, though: Letourneau still thinks that shorties have got it going on in MMA.
“I mean everybody talks about reach ... and reach ... and reach. It’s nice to have the reach, but you really need to adjust yourself. When you have long arms, by the time you bring it back, sometimes they’re already there BOOM at your hips and (they) take you down. I think for a grappler it’s actually an advantage — not I think, I’m sure — it’s an advantage to be shorter and more stocky.”
And just because Letourneau is in love with the striking arts doesn’t mean she’s not looking for a submission if the opportunity presents itself.
“If they wanna think I don’t have any jiu-jitsu, well I’ve been training jits for a very long time. It’s just that I really enjoy fighting on my feet. I love training stand up. It’s been 20 years I’m doing this, and it’s been 20 years I’m smiling when I’m doing this. I really love stand up, so this is where I spend the most of my time in my fights, but if the opportunity comes as soon as I hit the ground, I know I have a submission there. I may not show it in a couple of my fights, I mean I didn’t necessarily finish, but I can pretty aggressive from my back.”
If it all sounds like this is tailor-made to be a great fight then you’d be absolutely right. So tune in to Paramount Network this Friday evening to watch Letourneau and Williams put on a striking clinic in the Flyweight division.
Complete audio of our interview is embedded above, and complete coverage of Bellator 201: “Macfarlane vs. Lara” resides here at MMAmania.com all week long.
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