UFC Fight for the Troops 3: Liz Carmouche vs. Alexis Davis Head-to-Toe Breakdown
Coming off their first UFC wins, Liz Carmouche and Alexis Davis have their sights set on the winner of an upcoming title fight between women's bantamweight champion Ronda Rousey and Miesha Tate.
Carmouche is only one fight removed from a submission loss to Rousey. However, with Cat Zingano recovering from knee injuries, an impressive win over Davis at UFC Fight for the Troops 3 could be enough to earn "Girlrilla" another title shot, especially should Tate upset Rousey at UFC 168.
Davis has won six of her past seven fights, with her only loss during that time coming via a narrow decision against former Strikeforce champion Sarah Kaufman. Even a close win over Carmouche on Wednesday could position Davis near the front of the line for a shot at the lone UFC female belt.
As this important women's bantamweight bout approaches, here is a closer look at how Carmouche and Davis match up in all areas.
Striking: Carmouche Offense vs. Davis Defense
Liz Carmouche is one of the stronger fighters in the women's bantamweight division, but that muscle hasn't regularly been accompanied with knockout power over the course of her career.
While Carmouche does have six knockout victories on her record, most of those have been due to volume punching on the ground. Aside from a doctor stoppage in January 2009, Alexis Davis hasn't been finished since her MMA debut against Sarah Kaufman in April 2007, so she shouldn't be too worried about being stopped by Carmouche's strikes.
From distance, Carmouche doesn't have much to threaten Davis with. She's much tougher to deal with in the clinch, which she'll have trouble getting to and staying in, as Davis owns a reach advantage and is also a strong female bantamweight fighter.
When forced to strike from the outside against Kaitlin Young, Carmouche threw multiple kicks without setups and paid for them.
In the opening seconds, Carmouche dropped her lead hand and turned her lead leg outward (top left). Picking up on the outside leg kick that was coming, Young countered with a straight right (top right). Moments later, Carmouche made the same mistake, kicking without any setup (bottom left). Young caught her kick, landed a right hand and drove Carmouche into the cage wall (bottom right).
Carmouche won't be planning on standing with Davis for three rounds. If she's forced to, though, Carmouche isn't likely to generate much offense unless she finds a way to pin Davis to the fence and works dirty boxing.
Striking: Davis Offense vs. Carmouche Defense
If Liz Carmouche has success with any strikes aimed at Alexis Davis, it'll be her retreating hooks. She landed a few of them on Ronda Rousey, and Davis should press forward in similar fashion.
That said, Davis has a good chin on her and is good at bobbing and weaving while wading toward her opponents. In her fight with Shayna Baszler, Davis landed one of her best combinations in response to a step-back right hook that she's likely to see against Carmouche on Wednesday.
After baiting Baszler to react to a feinted jab, Davis ducked a right hook (top) and answered with a right hook-left hook combination (bottom).
With only two knockout wins in 19 career fights, Davis isn't likely to become the first to stop Carmouche with strikes. However, she is the better striker in this matchup and should win if this matchup stays standing.
One way Davis can attempt to remain upright is to use her jab to remain outside the range of Carmouche's takedown.
Davis used her jab effectively in her UFC debut against Rosi Sexton. Not only did it keep her shorter opponent on the outside, but Davis was also able to set up takedown attempts with her jab once she forced Sexton to respect her lead hand.
Expect Davis' jab to play a large role in this matchup when both fighters are standing.
Takedowns: Carmouche Offense vs. Davis Defense
Although Liz Carmouche is facing a reach disadvantage against Alexis Davis, she may be helped out by her opponent's aggressiveness.
Davis would be best-served remaining on the outside against Carmouche, who does her best work in both the striking and wrestling departments when in the clinch. However, Davis is an aggressive fighter who doesn't mind clinching either.
While it may not be in her best interests, don't be surprised to see Davis press forward and tie up with Carmouche once the fighters reach the edge of the Octagon.
If she does, Carmouche is capable of reversing positions and scoring a takedown along the cage wall.
Takedowns: Davis Offense vs. Carmouche Defense
Though Alexis Davis is capable of winning this fight while standing, she is most talented on the ground. So, it wouldn't be surprising to see the Canadian look for a takedown or two at UFC Fight for the Troops 3.
Despite spending a good amount of time on top in her UFC debut, though, Davis did not score a takedown on Rosi Sexton. If Davis wants to work from the top against Carmouche, she'd probably have more success with counter-wrestling than forcing takedown attempts.
Should she play it smart and keep Carmouche on the end of her jab, Davis could force bad takedown attempts on the part of her adversary. In this matchup, Davis would have more success securing the top position by avoiding the clinch than initiating it.
Grappling: Carmouche Top vs. Davis Bottom
Liz Carmouche has a relentless top game, utilizing high-volume ground-and-pound to set up submissions.
However, Davis has a better guard than most fighters Carmouche has faced. The Canadian has also never tapped into her MMA career. Davis has lost decisions by spending too much time on her back before, but she's not going to make things easy on Carmouche and has the jiu-jitsu to threaten with submissions from the bottom.
Davis does a good job of controlling her opponents' wrists on the ground, which will be important in keeping Carmouche's fists occupied with something other than crashing into her skull.
Against Rosi Sexton, Davis kept her adversary on the defensive when on bottom. By controlling Sexton's right hand, Davis was able to shut down her opponent's ground-and-pound and set up a triangle-choke attempt that the English woman was forced to defend for half a round.
While Carmouche fought off deep guillotine chokes in her most recent outing against Jessica Andrade, she has been submitted twice in her MMA career. One of those submission losses was via triangle choke in a bout against Marloes Coenen.
Davis can be controlled on the canvas, but she's equally dangerous with opponents in her guard. She'd definitely prefer to stay off her back, but with seven career submissions, Davis is capable of forcing a tap from Carmouche on Wednesday.
Grappling: Davis Top vs. Carmouche Bottom
Alexis Davis has a similar top game to Liz Carmouche. The Canadian will rough up her foes with ground-and-pound and force them to give up their back, where she can lock up rear-naked chokes.
Carmouche is a top-notch positional grappler, though. If she gets submitted by Davis, it's going to be because she made a mistake on top.
Before threatening Ronda Rousey with a neck crank at UFC 157, Carmouche found herself on bottom via a head-and-arm throw.
Initially (top left), Rousey maintained her positioning by driving off her right foot to prevent Carmouche from turning into her and trying to take her back.
However, when Rousey tried to trap Carmouche's left arm with her right leg, the challenger smartly grabbed the champion's ankle (top right) before having her arm laced. With Rousey's right limbs occupied, Carmouche was able to push off the cage wall with her right foot and end up on top by maintaining control of her opponent's right ankle while rolling through.
Having reversed Rousey, Carmouche should be well-equipped to escape should she end up underneath Davis at UFC Fight for the Troops 3.
Liz Carmouche and Alexis Davis both last competed over the summer, so ring rust isn't going to be a factor on Wednesday.
They also have displayed comparable conditioning over the course of their careers.
While both women are experienced in big fights, Carmouche competed in one of the most important bouts in women's MMA history when she met Ronda Rousey. Any advantage Carmouche draws from that will likely be minimal, but it can't hurt that she's made two trips to the Octagon, while Davis will only be competing under the UFC banner for her second time in this matchup.
There are several paths this matchup could take on Wednesday.
Despite being the underdog, Davis seems to have more avenues to victory than Carmouche does. She can win this fight with her boxing, stuffing takedowns and working from the top or even with a submission from the bottom.
Still, Carmouche's stifling top grappling should be all she needs to earn a victory. While Carmouche faces a reach disadvantage, Davis will come to the former title challenger as she has against other shorter opponents in past fights. If she gets her hands on Davis, Carmouche is stronger in the clinch and should be able to take this fight to the ground.
While Carmouche has been submitted while on top in the past, those losses came against elite submission artists in Ronda Rousey and Marloes Coenen. Davis is capable of submitting Carmouche also, but "Girlrilla" is, by no means, easy to catch.
She'll have to work her way out of some bad spots, but Carmouche will spend more time on top, and that'll be enough for the judges.
Carmouche defeats Davis by decision.
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