Liz Carmouche enters as one of the largest underdogs in championship history when she steps inside the Octagon for the first ever women’s title fight this Saturday.
The doubters and naysayers do not play a role in Carmouche’s mental state. That is a credit to her training as a Marine and fighter. She is a focused athlete. That focus has led her to the historic bout.
She will be the first openly gay athlete to compete in the UFC and will co-headline the event. It is a landmark event for the UFC. Her “Lizbos” will be in full force.
The "Girl-Rilla" truly emerged onto the MMA scene in her second Strikeforce: Challengers fight. Her opponent, Jan Finney, had just moved down to 135 pounds after showing her heart and toughness against Cyborg Santos. Carmouche was a rather unknown, inexperienced fighter.
Carmouche pummeled Finney and earned the stoppage. Women’s MMA enthusiasts took note. Just a few months later she would take another big step forward.
Miesha Tate had to drop out of a title bout against then Strikeforce bantamweight champion Marloes Coenen. The division did not have many options, and Carmouche got the call to step up on short notice. She accepted without hesitation, and the more experienced Coenen was expected to run through her.
Carmouche ultimately lost the fight, but for three rounds she took it to the champion. She used her wrestling and strength to rough up Coenen. Strikeforce fans took note, and the Columbus, Ohio crowd was on their feet for Carmouche even after the fight had concluded.
The Girl-Rilla would drop her next bout against top contender Sarah Kaufman by decision, but it would only prove to help her refocus in 2012.
Invicta Fighting Championships being allowed to use Strikeforce fighters on its card made Carmouche an easy fit on the roster. She competed on each of the first two cards and won with two impressive showings.
Ashleigh Curry was outmatched, and Kaitlin Young succumbed to a rear-naked choke. Carmouche was put back in the discussion of top bantamweights in the world.
Then Ronda Rousey signed to the UFC, and the women’s bantamweight world was shook up. The big stage had finally opened its doors to the ladies of MMA. However, there was not a treasure trove of talent ready to step up to fight Rousey.
Carmouche, a former Marine, was not one of those who shied away from the challenge.
The threat of an armbar and quick finish does not deter Carmouche in any way. She accepts the challenges and has a self-belief that makes her a dangerous fighter.
Rousey even remarks in UFC 157 Countdown that she will not be able to employ her normal intimidation tactics against Carmouche.
The focus is on Rousey, and rightfully so, but she and Carmouche will be the first women to step foot inside the Octagon. She will be the first openly gay fighter to headline an event for the UFC. These storylines should not be ignored.
She and Rousey are both making history.
Carmouche has an opportunity not only to become champion, but to use this moment to make herself a star in the sport. The mainstream media are paying attention to this event.
The Girl-Rilla has the chance to seize the moment and shock the world.