Valerie Letourneau had no doubt when she stepped into the Octagon with strawweight champion Joanna Jedrzejczyk last November that she had the skills and weapons to dethrone the reigning and defending queen at 115 pounds.
Letourneau put on a valiant performance but still came up short after five rounds, losing a unanimous decision to Jedrzejczyk in the end.
Now, as she prepares for her next fight in Ottawa on June 18, Letourneau looks back at the last one and knows deep down that she could have beaten Jedrzejczyk if not for her own body defeating her first.
"I have no doubt about it. I had no doubts that night that I could beat her," Letourneau told FOX Sports on Tuesday. "I wasn't going there thinking 'Oh I'm just going to go grab my check.' I knew how I felt in the gym and what I've seen and how my body was responding. I really knew I was going there and I had my chance to win this fight.
I really got hurt by my weight cut. My last 24 hours was my worst enemy. I gave everything I had and tried to stay positive to just do my fight, I pushed so hard in that camp and I didn't want to give up in those last 24 hours. But I was definitely hurt, that's the only thing that was making me sad. -- Valerie Letourneau
Letourneau said she suffered through a brutal weight cut to get down to 115 pounds and ended up slashing a huge percentage of her total body weight just to compete the next day for her fight against Jedrzejczyk.
"So far the lowest I've been able to go in the last 24 hours before the fight was 127 pounds, which means in the last 24 hours I cut 12 pounds of water. Twelve pounds in a little body of 127 pounds is huge," Letourneau revealed. "That's water you take away from your body. Also with the new IV rule, it actually makes it worse. After you cut 12 pounds of water, it's hard just to drink water. Just to drink water hurts you inside.
"You're so dry and sucked up from the dehydration that it's hard, and I was so lean on my last week on my last camp so I don't know where I could cut more. I lost a lot of muscle, my body fat was so low, I cannot chop off one leg or one arm. That's the lowest I've been able to go down."
The problem Letourneau has encountered is that she spent part of her career already fighting as a bantamweight and she knows the fighters competing at 135 pounds are just too big.
So Letourneau decided that shedding an additional 20 pounds was worthwhile to fight at strawweight, where she could be competitive even if she had a brutal weight cut the day before the bout.
"If I have to make 115, I'm going to do it again because I don't think I'm going to be very competitive at 135. I'm too small," Letourneau said. "I lost so much muscle mass going down to 115, but I don't think I'd be in the top five at 135. I'd rather go down to 115 and maybe not show up at 100 percent, but I'll definitely show up better than at 135.
"But 125 is definitely the best. That's the place I should be. That's the weight class I should be fighting at."
Fortunately for Letourneau, her next fight against Joanne Calderwood on June 18 will actually take place at 125 pounds.
The UFC decided to do a special attraction between the two fighters, who will compete in the flyweight division for the first time in the promotion's history. UFC officials have stated that they may explore opening up a 125-pound division in the future, but for now the bout between Letourneau and Calderwood is just a one off fight in the weight class.
For her part, Letourneau says she would love to see the UFC open another division because it would allow her to compete at a much healthier weight and it's likely more fighters would follow suit if there were a flyweight division for women.
"I want to train hard and everything, but that weight cut was just killing me," Letourneau said. "I wasn't excited I was going to go through that again. It's the best thing that's happened to me."
Ultimately, Letourneau says it's her dream to not only compete and win a title in a new 125-pound division but that she hasn't given up hope of getting back down to strawweight and winning the title there as well.
"That's the goal. That's my goal," Letourneau said about creating a flyweight division for women. "I was talking to my coaches, and I remember I said I wanted to get the belt at 115 and when they add the belt at 125, I'm going to go get that belt, too.
"So it's always been in my mind."