Following a win in her Bellator debut last September, flyweight Liz Carmouche was looking to keep her momentum going for her first bout of 2021 in April against fellow veteran Vanessa Porto.
Over the course of three rounds Carmouche was able to assert herself enough to pick up a unanimous decision victory, earning her fourth win in her last five fights.
“It was really great to be able to have another opportunity to compete under Bellator,” Carmouche told MMAWeekly.com. “I just feel like I’m getting a lot more reps in than previously, and that’s really exciting, especially against a veteran who has more fights than I do and come out of that with a win.
“I don’t feel like it was my best performance. I wanted to come out of it with a complete finish. I felt like I hurt her in the third, but being a veteran she was able to recover from that well and go the distance without being able to finish her. I know she was tough and it was going to be a difficult thing to do, but I want to finish my fights.”
Over a decade into her career, Carmouche continues to learn and develop not only out of her own desire to do so, but because sometimes circumstances have opened her eyes to new possibilities.
“My entire fight career I’m always active and I’m constantly trying to evolve and grow and adapt,” said Carmouche. “I had to do on my own thanks to Covid. And not being able to have things available it has just shown me how much more diversity I have and how much more skills I have and being able to tap into those.”
This Friday in Uncasville, Connecticut, Carmouche (15-7) will look to pick up her third win in a row when she faces off against Kana Watanabe (10-0-1) in the 125-pound co-main event of Bellator 261.
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“(Watanabe) having a strong Judo background and being a Judoka makes this really exciting,” Carmouche said. “I think Judo is a really good way of shutting down wrestling, so it will be really interesting for me to see how I adapt to that.
“I’m really looking forward to the challenge, but I also know that I have the skills available to finish her. That’s the thing I want to do – not go to a decision but actually finish her in this fight.”
While there is always an overall goal for Carmouche, she does not sacrifice the present for the future, and instead knows that to get to where she wants to be she has to first get through the obstacle in front of her.
“I never like to look ahead of my opponent but I certainly do have an end goal and something I’m trying to work for,” said Carmouche. “Ultimately securing the belt and holding it until I retire and everything I’m doing is working towards that, but I can’t look past Kana to that goal.
“Kana is the marker that’s in front of me, so I have to finish this goal before I move on to the next one.”