Marloes Coenen (right) isn't sweating her March 5 title defense. | Dave Mandel/Sherdog.com
Strikeforce 135-pound queen Marloes Coenen was supposed to defend her title against top contender Miesha Tate on March 5 in Columbus. However, that bout will not come to fruition, as Tate suffered a knee injury that has scratched her from the bout. Now, the Golden Glory standout will put her belt on the line against undefeated Liz Carmouche when Strikeforce hits the Nationwide Arena.
One might think that the late change could potentially throw a monkey wrench into the champion's game plan or mental preparation.
Not so, says Coenen.
“I’m excited. I’m looking forward to it. [The late change in opponent] is no problem for me. I had to wait a long time to fight again, so I’m all pumped up. I feel well-rounded in all the areas of the game,” said Coenen during Thursday's Strikeforce conference call. “Liz is a little different fighter than Miesha is. I believe Liz is very talented, and she will be a big star in the coming years. I believe her [submission game] is a little better than Miesha's.”
The Carmouche bout marks the first defense of Coenen’s title she won five months ago.
Second time was the charm for the 29-year-old, who rebounded from an unsuccessful 145-pound title bid against Cristiane Santos in January 2010 to capture the 135-pound strap from Sarah Kaufman nine months later, with a textbook armbar in the third round.
“[Winning the title] meant the world to me. First, I had my loss against 'Cyborg,' and [my shot at Kaufman] was completely new to me, because I had never fought in that weight class before,” said Coenen. “I had a lot of pressure, because I came from a loss, and I got a second world champion shot. When I finally won, I was standing in cage, and I said to myself, 'You've waited for this for 10 years.' I feel on top of world right now.”
However, regarding the technical aspects of her upcoming defense, the Dutch submission specialist certainly isn't tipping her hand.
Coenen asserts that although she'll be making small adjustments to her regimen to compensate for the change in opponent, most of her training will remain the same. Though she has spent most of her camp training for Tate, Coenen believes that as champion she should take on all comers, and that a bout with Tate is still in the cards for the future.
Part of the intrigue in a Tate-Coenen title bout is undeniably linked to the postergirl looks of both the champion and the challenger. However, it’s still pure sport that motivates that champion.
“She pictures herself as, like, a cute girl, but I picture myself in a different way. I’m a professional, so I’m not going to hate somebody for how [she] presents [herself], but I do believe that we as women are pioneers of sport,” the champion commented on whether there was any friction between she and Tate.
“What we do is the blueprint for the next generation. I believe we have to present ourselves as worthy and honorable women. And how you do that is up to you, but I do it different than Miesha does.”