Former UFC strawweight contender Valerie Letourneau got the biggest break of her career when she challenged Joanna Jedrzejczyk for the 115-pound strap at UFC 193 in 2015. But preparing for the said fight apparently involved one of the scariest moments in all of her years as a professional fighter.
During last Monday’s episode of The MMA Hour, Letourneau recalled how she thought she was in the brink of death during the weight cutting period.
“The worst was when I fought Joanna [Jedrzejczyk], and you can talk to “Bigfoot” (Antonio Silva) and talk to Mark Hunt, because I was sitting between them [in the sauna],” Letourneau said (via MMA Fighting). “They had to take me to the hospital right after weigh-ins. I couldn't even drink, eat, or speak. And I don't know if you remember, but we did an interview as soon as we walked off the stage and I couldn't stop shaking. I couldn't stop shaking, and I couldn't even walk.”
“I just made it to my chair and after that, I couldn't move, I was so cold, so cold inside. I felt like all my bones were knocking on each other and they had to give me an I.V., I was going to die.”
“You’re not supposed to have (an) IV, but you get to this point I had to push,” she continued. “My blood pressure when I started cutting weight was 80 over 35, that’s how low it was. Can you imagine how I was feeling? Just trying to have a conversation, just trying to even think properly, I was losing my voice, vision. I couldn't even hear properly. So you just think your heart is going to stop. Mentally, you just stay strong and say, ‘okay, I'm going to make it tomorrow.’”
“I was talking to my body like it’s not even part of myself, like it’s a machine and you just keep going, keep walking, keep doing your thing. But how many times can I do this? And the more you do it, you're more traumatized. Every single time, you're more concerned of — let’s say a week from the fight, I was thinking more about how much I was going to suffer again to make it to 115 [pounds, rather] than the fight.”
Last week, the UFC announced the addition of a flyweight division for women, but was later retracted by officials. The implementation of additional weight classes has long been clamored for, and Letourneau feels it is a necessity now, more than ever, especially for women.
“They need more weight classes for women, that’s for sure. And I even heard many guys saying that 15 pounds between, let’s say 155 and 170, I remember [Donald] Cerrone was saying 155 pounds is five pounds too small for him, but then 170 pounds is almost too big, and I believe him.”
“For me, I could even fight at 120 pounds with my diet and everything. But the five extra pounds [to make strawweight], imagine every pound takes me an hour to an hour and a half to lose of sauna, of hot bath. So it’s five to six more hours of struggle and that’s how you kill your body.”
“We just need more weight classes and we need fighters to be more responsible,” she added. “You make the decision to make that weight and if you can’t, then just go up.”
Letourneau recently signed with Bellator to compete in their 125-pound division, and will make her debut against Emily Ducote at Bellator 181 on July 14th.