Valerie Letourneau has a lot riding on her next weigh-in. | Photo: Josh Schaefer/Sherdog.com
Valerie Letourneau has yet to miss weight during her brief UFC tenure, but because the Montreal native did not make 115 pounds on the nose ahead of her first two strawweight bouts, her trip to the scale ahead of her title clash with Joanna Jedrzejczyk remains a point of concern.
After making her Octagon debut at 135 pounds, Letourneau notched strawweight triumphs over Jessica Rakoczy and Maryna Moroz in her next two appearances to net a championship shot at UFC 193. The American Top Team representative checked in at 116 pounds for the matchup with Rakoczy and weighed 116 again against Moroz after tipping the scales at 117 on her initial attempt.
There are no weight allowances for a title bout, so Letourneau will have to prove she can make 115 pounds exactly prior to her showdown with Jedrzejczyk.
“There’s no doubt that I’ll do it. I know it’s not going to be easy, but there’s no doubt I’m going to do it,” Letourneau said during a recent conference call. “Of course I’m not going to miss my chance at the title for one pound, one more pound to lose, but my weight cut is going a bit better than the first two, and I think we just improve fight after fight, so that should make it easier.”
UFC 193 takes place at Etihad Stadium in Melbourne on Saturday and is headlined by a bantamweight title tilt between Ronda Rousey and Holly Holm. Jedrzejczyk-Letourneau will serve as the evening’s co-feature, marking just the second time in promotion history that two women’s bouts have been given top billing on a pay-per-view card .
Of course, that enhanced exposure is due primarily to the rise of Rousey, who is arguably the UFC’s biggest star. Letourneau, who began fighting professionally in 2007, recognizes the Olympic judoka’s trailblazing work in the sport and is amazed at how far women’s MMA has progressed in recent years.
“Coming from where I come from, I’ve been there for a long time and looking what was going on with female mixed martial arts... I think it’s unbelievable how we’ve moved in two, three years, and it’s just something that I could have never imagined five years ago. [It’s] very exciting,” she said.
Letourneau enters UFC 193 as a massive underdog to Jedrzejczyk. The Polish champion brutally dispatched Carla Esparza to capture 115-pound gold in March and was similarly dominant in thrashing Jessica Penne at UFC Fight Night in June. While Letourneau will have a reach and weight advantage, she is somewhat of a surprise opponent for Jedrzejczyk, who was initially expected to rematch Claudia Gadelha in her next title defense. However, Gadelha was slow to heal from a finger injury suffered against Jessica Aguilar at UFC 190
“Maybe she’s [Jedrzejczyk] going to have a bad surprise on Nov. 14,” Letourneau said. “...I feel like I improved from my fights from Jessica Rakoczy to Moroz, but I feel like I improved 10 times more already between my fight from Moroz to now, so I just can’t wait to put it all there and to show her I’m capable of it, and I just hope I’m going to be able to put everything I’ve been working on in that fight.”