MMA Star Signs Multiyear Contract With WWE

WWE just signed one of the top stars in mixed martial arts. On Wednesday, WWE announced it has signed Valerie Loureda to a multi-year contract. She is a top women's MMA prospect in Bellator, and according to ESPN, Lorueda will move to Orlando from Miami and report to the WWE Performance Center on July 19. Bellator told ESPN that the 23-year-old will remain under contract with the promotion but will be with WWE full-time. 

"I am honored to become the first Cuban American woman in history to sign with the WWE," Loureda wrote on Twitter. I come from a family of immigrants, now it's my time to represent our Latin culture, I was destined for this. Thank you for this opportunity [WWE and NXT]. I will make you proud."

Loureda compiled a 4-1 record while competing in Bellator. She was committed to MMA up until the last few months. Earlier this year, Loureda's manager, Abe Kawa, had a conversation with former UFC executive James Kimball about WWE's name, image and likeness (NIL) deal with college wrestler AJ Ferrari. That led to Kimball, who is WWE's senior vice president of global talent strategy and development, showing interest in the young MMA star. 

"I had to beg her to come out to WrestleMania with me," Kawa told ESPN. "I kept telling her over and over again, just trust me. When you come see this, this is you. I would never take you to something that's not you. This is everything for you. You will fall in love with it. And she did."  

Once Loureda attended WrestleMania, she fell in love with WWE. "I'm an entertainer," Loureda told ESPN. "I love glamour. I love production, I love storytelling. And when I saw the WWE, I realized this is everything I'm good at in one place. Not only that, but I saw the opportunity to be the first Cuban American woman to be a WWE superstar."

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Loureda had a tryout in late April and early May with WWE and enjoyed herself so much that she didn't want to leave. WWE coaches praised Loureda's ability, and she signed with the company not too long after the tryout. "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," Bellator president Scott Coker told ESPN in a statement. "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."