|Per Haljestam-USA TODAY Sports
Liz Carmouche looks to end the reign of Valentina Shevchenko, and finally claim a world championship.
Ahead of the UFC’s premier trip to Uruguay, Flyweight challenger Liz ‘Girl-Rilla’ Carmouche enters with the knowledge that she is within an elite group. Carmouche is currently the only mixed-martial artist to hold victories over both reigning strawweight best Jéssica Andrade, and Saturday’s opponent, Valentina Shevchenko. Now a perennial contender since her move to 125 pounds, Carmouche rekindles a nine-year rivalry with flyweight destroyer Shevchenko, holding a doctor’s stoppage triumph over the Kyrgyzstan native.
After two failed attempts to claim professional gold, Lafayette born Carmouche looks to make it third time lucky against a former foe this weekend, after a certain rebirth a division lower. Despite a narrow decision blunder against Alexis Davis in her divisional bow, Carmouche has earned two consecutive victories, winning the judges’ nod against former Invicta FC flyweight best Jennifer Maia, and the now faltering Lucie Pudilová. Below, I take a look at the nine-year career of Liz Carmouche.
Within the opening calendar year of Liz Carmouche’s professional career, the Louisiana grappler competed a staggering six times, establishing an unblemished 6-0 résumé, competing in the regional scene in both Mexico and the U.S. Catching the eye early, Carmouche picked up victories over the likes of Invicta FC stalwart Colleen Schneider and Jan Finney, sandwiched between a second-round doctor’s stoppage win over the previously mentioned Shevchenko. Off the back of a victory over Finney, Carmouche had earned a quickfire chance at Strikeforce gold.
Premier Title Tilt:
After an unsuccessful clash with Cris Cyborg for featherweight gold, Marloes Coenen found instant success competing at 135 pounds. Scheduled for her premier title defense against Carmouche after a victory over Sarah Kaufmann, Coenen issued Carmouche her first defeat in mixed martial arts competition. In a grueling five-round affair, Carmouche ultimately succumbed to a triangle early in the penultimate round. Coenen had her premier defense, Carmouche suffered her first loss. A second successive defeat, this time to Sarah Kaufmann via a one-sided decision, spelled an end to Carmouche’s stint in the organization.
The History Maker:
After signing with female mixed martial arts promotion Invicta FC, Carmouche returns to winning ways with two finishes in early 2012. A first-round knockout win over Ashleigh Curry followed by a rear-naked choke win over Kaitlin Young, earned Carmouche a call from the Ultimate Fighting Championship. Despite UFC President Dana White’s adamancy surrounding the possibility of women ever competing in the promotion, Carmouche headlined UFC 157 against Ronda Rousey in a bantamweight title tilt and the promotion’s first-ever women’s fight.
Rousey had gained quite the following during her reign as Strikeforce champion, stopping the likes of Julia Budd, Sarah Kaufmann and Miesha Tate in the process. After initiating a clinch early on, Judo black belt Rousey gave up her back during a scramble and was forced to defend a standing rear-naked choke attempt from Carmouche. Surviving and eventually securing side control, Rousey managed to secure the arm after some stout defending from Carmouche, forcing the tap with seconds remaining in the opening round.
Rivaling her aforementioned victory over Shevchenko, Carmouche rebounded from the disheartening loss to Rousey, to stop Jéssica Andrade via strikes in the second round. Facing fellow talented grappler Alexis Davis, Carmouche droppped a decision defeat before a second straight loss, this time to former bantamweight best Miesha ‘Cupcake’ Tate. After a year on the sidelines, Carmouche returned to the Octagon facing former Invicta FC bantamweight champion Lauren Murphy. The two fight skid was snapped via a unanimous decision win. A November meeting with Katlyn Chookagian at UFC 205 seen Carmouche earn her own win streak, edging out her flyweight compatriot with a narrow split decision.
Upon the promotion’s decision to create a women’s flyweight division in 2017, Carmouche announced her intentions to test her ability a division lower. In a divisional bow against former opponent Alexis ‘Ally-Gator’ Davis, Carmouche was once more edged out, this time in a much closer decision display. Carmouche was then pitted against organization debutante Jennifer Maia, with big things expected of the Invicta FC flyweight queen. Failing to ever get firing in the three-round affair, Carmouche consistently outpointed the Chute Box protégé. A February clash against Lucie Pudilová earned Carmouche a re-run with Shevchenko, as she claimed a unanimous decision win.