Champ Coenen Unsurprised by Strength of Underdog Carmouche

By Mike Whitman Mar 5, 2011
Marloes Coenen (red gloves) came from behind to submit Liz Carmouche. | Dave Mandel/

Marloes Coenen was in trouble.

The Strikeforce women’s 135-pound champion was mounted by and absorbing serious punishment from Liz Carmouche, the athletic underdog who stepped in on late notice for injured top contender Miesha Tate.

Carmouche bullied Coenen both in the clinch and on the ground. Though most foresaw the wily champion to retain her title, as she eventually did, few recognized the threat that Carmouche’s strength posed to Coenen’s reign. The champion, however, was not among the doubters.

“If you look at her, you know she’s strong. I saw it at the weigh-ins,” a banged-up Coenen told after her successful title defense. “She’s a terrific fighter and hits hard. She will be champ someday. She’s very young and so talented. I’ve got a lot of faith in her.”

Coenen and Carmouche went toe-to-toe in the co-main event of Strikeforce “Feijao vs. Henderson” at Nationwide Arena in Columbus, Ohio. After a competitive first round that saw both women score with strikes, Carmouche took over in the second frame, scoring a takedown and passing to mount before throwing heavy leather at the champion’s skull. Round three was a carbon copy of the previous stanza, as the former U.S. Marine used her power in the clinch to take the fight to the floor, once again mounting Coenen.

While many fighters would have panicked in such a precarious position, 10-year MMA vet Coenen trusted in her defense and avoided a stoppage by actively blocking many of Carmouche’s punches. In fact, Coenen’s trainer, Martijn de Jong, had informed referee Greg Franklin that his fighter likes to use her elbows to block punches in such situations.

“I did it against ‘Cyborg’ [Santos] and Sarah Kaufman. I always defend like that,” explained Coenen. “If I’m open for the shots, then you should stop it, yeah, but I was mostly defending.”

Prior to the takedown in round two, Coenen appeared secure a tight standing guillotine choke, but “Girl-Rilla” would not relent, twisting her body and powering Coenen to the ground.

“I always forget a lot about my fights afterward. I’ll have to look at the tape. I know I had her in the choke, but I didn’t have it really tight, and I knew that,” said Coenen. “It was a risky choke, but I did it anyway because I wanted to finish it.”

In round four, Coenen’s technique finally took over. As Carmouche brought the fight to the floor yet again, Coenen swiveled her hips to set up a combination triangle-armbar. When her opponent gave an opening, the champion switched to a triangle choke and made it count.

“[From what I remember], I was on the floor, and when I have a person [in that position], I can do anything I want with them,” explained Coenen. “When I [threw my leg] over [her head], I knew that was it.”

When asked what was next for her, the Dutch submission specialist didn't hesitate to name the woman against which she was originally supposed to defend her title on Saturday.

“Of course, [Strikeforce CEO] Scott Coker is the boss, but Miesha, for sure.”

Reader comments are active below. Chime in with an opinion or thought by signing in with your Facebook, Twitter, Google or Yahoo! account.

<h2>Fight Finder</h2>