The last time we saw 6th ranked Liz Carmouche (5-1), she was giving Strikeforce Champion Marloes Coenen all she could handle before falling victim to a triangle choke in the fourth round. Now, she begins her journey back to championship contention as she battles 2nd ranked Sarah Kaufman at Strikeforce Challengers 17 on July 22nd at the Palms Casino Resort in Las Vegas, Nevada. This bout is part of the main card and will be shown LIVE on Showtime starting at 11pm EST.
Liz took time out of her busy schedule to talk to WMMA Today about her upcoming bout, the future of the Bantamweight division and women’s MMA as a whole.
WMMA Today: Hi Liz, and thank you very much for taking the time for this interview. To start off, can you tell us a bit about your background growing up and how you first got involved in combat sports?
Liz: I grew up in Okinawa, Japan. I spent 17 years there. I dibble dabbled in different forms of karate off and on as a child, but nothing long enough to claim any.
WT: Prior to becoming a professional MMA fighter, you were in the United States Marine Corps. Can you tell us about that experience and how it helps with your new career?
Liz: I spent 5 years and four months in the Marine Corps and I did three tours in Iraq. The core drive of who I am was developed long before the Marine Corp, but it definitely helped seal in stone my mentality of not quitting. You can’t tell a pilot you can’t do something, you make it work any way possible. It’s the same in MMA. I won’t tell my coach I can’t do something, I’ll work to make it happen.
WT: Before we talk about your upcoming fight, let’s look back at your last one. On only two weeks’ notice, you stepped in for an injured Miesha Tate and took on Strikeforce Champion, Marloes Coenen. For three and a half rounds, you gave the champ all she could handle before she caught you with a triangle choke submission. What are your thoughts on that fight and what can you take away from it that you can use in future bouts?
Liz: The fight against Marloes was a win/win for me. To turn down an opportunity like I had wasn’t even conceivable and while I walked out of that cage with a loss, I walked away with a new appreciation for the sport and the challenge of developing myself as a fighter.
WT: Your next fight is July 22nd on the Strikeforce Challengers 17 card against former Strikeforce Champion, Sarah Kaufman (13-1). How is training camp going and have you done anything differently for this fight?
Liz: This is the first training camp that I’ve had with more than a two week notice. That’s given me a huge advantage I’ve never had before. I’m used to shoving as much training as I could in two weeks and while that was/is the norm for me, it’s really nice to spend 2 months training for one fight.
WT: You and Sarah are two of the better strikers within the division, having finished most of your fights via a form of knockout (3 of 5 for you, and 10 of 13 for Sarah), so will this fight be the slugfest we all are expecting and how do you see it ending?
Liz: I do think it’s going to be a lot of scrambling and a lot of time slugging it out. I’m actually looking forward to that for a change.
WT: You two have had a “friendly battle” on Twitter about what you plan on doing to each other. Is there any final message you’d like to give her?
Liz: No real final message for Sarah except to say that I’m excited for July 22nd.
WT: With the Strikeforce acquisition by Zuffa, and knowing Dana White’s stance on female fights, do you feel any added pressure when you enter the cage and what do you think female fighters need to do in order to become more mainstream? Do you see yourself fighting in the UFC one day?
Liz: I don’t feel any added pressure. My last fight took fight of the night honors and I expect no less from this one. The way that women have been performing I think speaks volumes for itself. People are noticing us a lot more often and enjoying it over the men’s fights. I definitely hope to be seen in the UFC in the future.
WT: There’s another big fight within the division this month as Marloes Coenen defends her Strikeforce Championship against Miesha Tate on the 30th at the Strikeforce: Fedor vs Henderson event. How do you see that fight playing out?
Liz: I think it’ll be a great fight. Miesha is known for her wrestling and grappling. It’s a great match up with Marloes who has great stand up and jiu jitsu.
WT: Not looking past Sarah, but one would assume that the winner of your fight will be the #1 contender for the Strikeforce title. What are your thoughts on a possible rematch with Marloes? With Miesha?
Liz: I would love a rematch with Marloes, but of course I would also love the chance to challenge myself against a different opponent like Miesha.
WT: Thank you for taking the time to do this interview and best wishes in your upcoming fight and career. Do you have any final comments, thoughts or shout-outs?
Liz: I want to say thank you to my coaches Manolo Hernandez, Matt Fort, Frank Salgado, Walel Watson, Gazzy Parman, and Tiger Smalls. Thank you to all my sponsors; Akimma, Build and Destroy, Forty Thieves, Ranger Up, Guard Ya Grill, Sacred Savage, Dre Custom Graphix, and Justoneyearmovie.com. Thank you to my training partners that shape me and motivate me; Walel Watson, Matt Fort, Kevin Dunsmoor, Landon Piercy, Alex Soto, and Mike DelaTorre. To Adrian Dizon and Mike D, get well and you guys are in my prayers.
**Rankings supplied by the Unified Women’s MMA Rankings