Exclusive: Liz Carmouche Talks UFC 157 Bout Against Ronda Rousey
On February 23rd in Anaheim, CA history will be made as two women will fight inside the famed Octagon for the first time in the organizations history. Ronda Rousey the first ever UFC Women’s Bantamweight Champion will defend her title against former Strikeforce/Invicta FC fighter Liz Carmouche.
Regardless of the outcome, fifty years from now these two ladies will still be known as the first ever women to fight for the UFC and if that’s not enough they will be headlining UFC 157 on pay-per-view. The historical significance has not been lost on Carmouche and as she prepares for the toughest fight of her career she took a few minutes to talk to us about being part of something so huge.
“I’m feeling great, I am walking on cloud nine currently,” Carmouche told BJPenn.Com Radio. “I’m super excited and I honestly couldn’t ask for more. I thought if I was going to fight in the UFC it might be on the undercard. To be in the main event is just mind blowing.”
We had Carmouche on as a guest a little over a month ago and had made a push for her to get the fight against Rousey, but as of a few days ago there were reports popping up all over the place that former Strikeforce Featherweight Champion Cris “Cyborg” Santos would be the one to face Rousey. It’s been a whirlwind few days for the former Marine and Carmouche is ready for all that comes with this fight.
“This all came together about two hours before the media released the story,” said Carmouche. “I found out about it just before everyone else did. It feels great in all honesty, when I was still considering MMA and I wanted to get involved in it, my big dream was that I’d be the first ever female to fight in the UFC. I never thought that it would actually happen so to be able to participate in this type of history, honestly I can’t even wrap my mind around that yet.”
Carmouche recently said in an interview that she had been preparing for this fight secretly since last year. She told us that she learned awhile back to always make sure you’re prepared to get the call because when it comes you better be ready for it.
“Whomever happens to be the champion I am always preparing for the possibility (That I may fight her),” Carmouche explained. “After the Marloes (Coenen) fight it taught me one thing and that is to always be prepared for the possibility of getting a phone call to take someone else’s place. That’s kind of how we do it now, we prepare for a title fight and as soon as Ronda got the (UFC) belt she became the new goal. I’ve been training for her for quite awhile now.”
Rousey has been so dominant during her short time in MMA. Six professional fights, six armbar finishes in the first round. We last saw her in action against former champion Sarah Kaufman and it took her just 54 seconds to gain the submission victory over one of the best female fighters in any weight class. With an outstanding Judo base, Carmouche will have to be prepared to defend Rousey’s takedowns. She will look to bring in some big, strong takedown artists to help her train for this championship fight.
“I actually had sumo wrestlers in mind, if they can’t throw me with all their weight then I should definitely be alright,” laughed GirlRilla. “It’s going to be a different training camp than usual. At this point my coaches have put together a whole list of changes that we are going to make. They said I’m just going to have to wait and be surprised. At this point it could be anyone walking through that door.”
Judging by all reports the UFC will only bring the women’s bantamweight fighters into the Octagon at this time. There are plenty of good fighters to help round out the division and Carmouche has a few ideas of who’d she like to see join Rousey and herself.
“I honestly have no idea who some of the other fighters are going to be,” said the 28-year-old Louisiana native. “Like I said it came as a surprise to me when I found out that I was the one who was going to be facing Rousey. I’d like to see the women who were headlining for Strikeforce branch over to the UFC. They’ve shown they are in the top 10 and they certainly deserve to be there.”
Carmouche’s last two fights have been contested for Invicta Fighting Championships. Although they have only held three shows they have certainly made a name for themselves and given the female fighters a new home and new opportunities. CEO Shannon Knapp has a wealth of experience in MMA and is very supportive of fighters like Carmouche.
“As soon as she (Knapp) found out she sent me a text message,” Carmouche admitted. “She congratulated me and told me I deserved it. It was great to have her support because although she wanted me to continue to be part of Invicta, she is a great woman and whether female fighters are competing for Invicta or moving on to something better, she honestly just wants what’s best for the sport. It was great to have her support.”
Carmouche is represented by Alchemist Management and they really went all out in trying to secure this fight with Rousey for her. They represent some of the best fighters in MMA today along with some of the stars of tomorrow. Carmouche is very grateful for all they have done for her in and out of the cage.
“It means a lot (Alchemist), I never thought when it came to a management company they would have people come down to the gym to train with us,” said Carmouche. “Nima Safapour came down to the gym just to train jiu-jitsu with us because he was going to be in the area. To have support like that means the world to me. Normally management companies have guys who are going to walk around in suits and be glued to their cell phones, but Nima took the time to hang out and then go to lunch with us. You don’t see that with a lot of other management companies.”
Since the fight was announced Carmouche has been inundated with demands for her time. This is another reason she is thankful to have the team at Alchemist behind her so they can handle all the requests for interviews as well as land some big sponsors for her main event fight against Rousey.
“Oh, wow in comparison to normal it’s been about four times as many (Interview requests),” Carmouche said. “In one day alone they (Reporters) were calling work, they were calling Lex McMahon (Manager), everyone they could possibly get a hold of. If I have (Had a larger request for sponsors) I haven’t heard it. I’m certainly hoping to, I’d love to have a car sponsorship, grocery store sponsorship. To have the basics of paying the bills taken care of would be great. I’m hoping something like this will make a difference, but I haven’t really seen any changes yet.”
Despite the fact that we are in the year 2012 and women’s MMA have been putting on exciting, entertaining fights for some time now, there are still fans out there and even some male fighters who don’t support them. Unfortunately there are always going to be a lot of naysayers, but the more these ladies accomplish inside the cage the more they shut the mouths of their most ardent critics.
“All I have to say is February 23rd is going to mark the day when that changes,” said a confident Carmouche. “We are going to prove them wrong. Time and time again whenever people have doubted women’s MMA we have proved them wrong every single step of the way. This fight is not going to be anything different.”
If you don’t know a lot about Liz Carmouche and judge her by her looks and the way she fights you will think that she is very stoic and doesn’t have very much to say. If you take the time to get to her know her you will find her to be a compassionate, dedicated woman who loves to compete and should she emerge victorious against Rousey she will show a whole new side to her personality.
“For someone who’s not very emotional and I have been referred to as being stoic, it will probably bring tears to my eyes,” Carmouche stated. “I think that’s probably the best way that I can sum it up. It will be emotionally overwhelming.”