Liz Carmouche has begun her ascent on the Bellator MMA women’s flyweight ladder.
The 37-year-old Ultimate Fighting Championship, Strikeforce and Invicta Fighting Championships veteran will confront the unbeaten Kana Watanabe in the Bellator 261 co-main event on Friday at the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Connecticut. Carmouche has posted back-to-back victories—one by decision, one by submission—since she joined the Bellator roster in 2020. She last fought at Bellator 256, where she laid claim to a unanimous verdict over Vanessa Porto on April 9.
As Carmouche prepares for her three-round scrap with Watanabe, here are five things you might not know about her:
1. She understands the price of true combat.
Carmouche served as a helicopter electrician in the United States Marine Corps for five years (2004-09). She spent 21 months of her enlistment in war-torn Iraq.
2. A fast start gave way to her quick rise in MMA.
“Girl-Rilla” made her professional mixed martial arts debut on March 13, 2010 and proceeded to rattle off six consecutive victories—a run that included wins over Colleen Schneider, Jan Finney and current UFC women’s flyweight titleholder Valentina Shevchenko. Carmouche stopped Shevchenko on a second-round technical knockout at a C3 Fights show in September 2010 and remains the only woman to finish the Kyrgyzstani superstar.
3. She surrounds herself with the right people.
Carmouche trains with Team Hurricane Awesome out of the San Diego Combat Academy, where she hones her skills under Manolo Hernandez and works alongside a number of other accomplished martial artists, including former Bellator MMA women’s flyweight champion Ilima-Lei Macfarlane.
4. She has not yet won ‘The Big One.’
A Lafayette, Louisiana, native, Carmouche has fought for a major mixed martial arts championship on three different occasions. She submitted to a fourth-round triangle choke from Marloes Coenen in a battle for the Strikeforce women’s bantamweight crown on March 5, 2011, surrendered to a first-round armbar from Ronda Rousey in a historic confrontation for the Ultimate Fighting Championship women’s bantamweight title on Feb. 23, 2013 and dropped a unanimous decision to the aforementioned Shevchenko in a five-round encounter for the UFC women’s flyweight belt on Aug. 10, 2019.
5. She has failed only against top-flight opposition.
The six women to whom Carmouche has lost—Shevchenko, Rousey, Coenen, Sarah Kaufman, Miesha Tate and Alexis Davis (twice)—own a combined record of 115-36. Of the six, only Davis has failed to strike gold in either Strikeforce or the UFC.
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