Valerie Loureda, a rising star in mixed martial arts, announced she's will transition to professional wrestling after signing with WWE.
"I have now become the first Cuban-American woman [to sign with] and am now a WWE superstar," Loureda told Ariel Helwani on The MMA Hour. "I'm really excited and I've dedicated my whole life to martial arts, you know? And I feel like everything has come to this moment and this is my opportunity to showcase my culture and show the world the entertainer that I am."
Loureda ends her professional MMA career with a 4-1 record, having competed for Bellator in all four bouts and winning her final fight over Taylor Turner by split decision in November.
The 23-year-old was recently spotted at WrestleMania 38 -- WWE's biggest annual event -- in Dallas earlier this year.
“That was my first WWE show ever — I had never been to a live event,” Loureda said, admitting that she'd watched pro wrestling "here and there" growing up via the New York Post. “When I walked into the arena and saw the organization, the professionalism, the crowd and just the beautiful production that WrestleMania is — I just fell in love with it.”
Loureda will begin training at WWE's Performance Center in the Orlando area in mid-July as part of the company's push to sign star athletes and train them from scratch, having rebranded its NXT developmental brand last year.