‘We Haven’t Had A Champion With The Charisma To Bring Over The Talent’

 APR 19 Bellator 294
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“If we (PFL) could have those two weight classes, we’d be dominating everywhere, and that would definitely be the organization to look out for.”

Liz Carmouche has seen it all in mixed martial arts (MMA).

The current Bellator women’s Flyweight champion holds her spot in history as one-half of the first fight between women in Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) history. Carmouche, 40, challenged for the Bantamweight title against Ronda Rousey in February 2013. Although she came up short via a first round armbar defeat, Carmouche remained amongst that pivotal pool of 135-pound trailblazers until she dropped to 125 pounds in December 2017.

It has been ten-plus years since the women arrived with the 135-pound division, and the landscape is nowhere near what it used to be regarding talent and exposure. Since Rousey, Holly Holm, Miesha Tate, Amanda Nunes, and Raquel Pennington have held the prestigious title. Ultimately, “Girlrilla” believes the current state of affairs can be attributed to the lack of follow-up champions who could captivate audiences to the degree Rousey did.

“I definitely feel like we just haven’t had a champion that’s had the charisma at 135 to bring over the talent,” Carmouche told MMA Mania. “If you look at Bellator being a prime example, a lot of those 145ers that fill and implement what we know as being their division are truly 135ers, right? They moved up a weight class because they know there’s no way they can make 125, or maybe they just don’t want to. Whatever the case happens to be, they’re not going down to 125, so they went up to 145.

“We have some 125ers like myself that are killing ourselves to make 125 that could perform so much better at 135,” she continued. “Or women that could probably perform better and don’t know it. They can make it, but they don’t have a lot of muscle on their body. They’re not really pulling it together at 125. Do things right; it could be a much better 135 fighter. If we (PFL) could have those two weight classes, we’d be dominating everywhere, and that would definitely be the organization to look out for.”

As one of the best Flyweights on the planet, Carmouche (20-7), is set to take on a new venture when she makes her PFL debut against Juliana Velasquez at PFL San Antonio next weekend (Thurs., April 4, 2024). Carmouche is on the best stretch of her career, riding a seven-fight winning streak, six of which ended by finish (three submissions, three knockouts).

The San Diego, Calif., native didn’t need to continue after her most recent title defense against Ilima-Lei Macfarlane at Bellator 300 in October 2023 (watch highlights). However, she believes two more weight classes, one of which introduces her old division to her new promotion, would be the perfect send-off.

“I think the best, best case scenario would be to get the belt at 125, boycott — get in PFL’s ear, having gotten the belt to be able to influence them, and hopefully get to achieve bringing a 135 division over, and ending it with the 135 belt,” Carmouche said of a perfect retirement scenario. “So, I think another season, but going up a weight class, that would be the cherry on top, and that could close everything out.”

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