Twenty-seven year old Strikeforce welterweight Liz Carmouche is part of a new generation of successful fighters transitioning from a career on the battlefield to one inside the cage. With fellow soldiers Brian Stann and Tim Kennedy leading the way, the former Marine Corps electrician with three tours of duty in Iraq has remained undefeated five fights into her career and is now positioned to potentially hoist a promotional championship above her head pending the outcome of a co-headlining bout against title-holder Marloes Coenen this Saturday night in Columbus, Ohio.
Carmouche recently took time to speak with media about the March 5 match-up as well as how her time in the military helped forge her into the fighter Coenen will see five days from now.
“I respect Marloes – she’s the world’s best,” the humble Carmouche began when asked about accepting the bout on short notice due to original contender Miesha Tate pulling out with a knee injury. “This is an opportunity to be the best women’s fighter in the world and it was an opportunity I just couldn’t refuse. I was excited and I’m still anxious to fight. Just to be around someone at this level and to have an opportunity is something I just couldn’t pass up.”
“I had no hesitations. This isn’t something that I could chance or turn up. I try and stay in shape year-round so when they gave the notice I was ready for it,” she added.
As far as what worries her about the Dutch submission specialist’s attack, Carmouche remained confident while still offering some credit to Coenen’s in-ring reputation.
“Nothing about her game concerns me. I try to stay well rounded and well developed, but she’s the best in the world so of course there’s always that concern but I feel like I’m ready for that challenge.”
However, as far as a factor working in her favor, Carmouche referred to an ability to work under pressure as well as press through adversity based on her half-decade in the Marines, explaining, “I think one thing that goes in my favor is my military experience. Jitters aren’t something that you can have when you’re out in Iraq with your weapon. So that definitely works in my favor.”
“I think some of the things they (the military and MMA) share in common is the inability to give into the word ‘can’t’,” she continued. “We kind of push it out of our repertoire in the military and I think that transfers over into our fighting career. If there’s anything in front of us that we feel is a challenge, it pushes us that much further and that much hard to achieve it. At no point will we ever stop.”
In closing “Girl-Rilla” spoke about her motivation for fighting expressing a pure enjoyment in the challenge the sport provides.
“I like pushing myself to see what I can achieve in life and I just want to keep bettering myself as a person. In the military you train so hard and when you work for something and you’re told you can’t do it it’s just a slap in the face because as a woman you work just as hard as the men, if not harder. To be told you can’t be on the front line, it’s horrible,” Carmouche said on the subject. “So I wanted that and to achieve it was just one more check in the box for me. In MMA it’s the same thing. I don’t ever want to be told I can’t achieve something so I work hard to be the best fighter I can be.”
Carmouche is 5-0 since turning pro a little less than a year ago with four finishing performances including a third round TKO of veteran opponent Jan Finney this past November at Strikeforce Challengers 12. Three of her victories have come by way of strikes.
Joining Carmouche and Coenen on the card, UFC/PRIDE icon Dan Henderson faces 205-pound champ Rafael “Feijao” Cavalcante in light heavyweight title action, Tim Kennedy takes on powerful kickboxer Melvin Manhoef, and Jorge Masvidal will make his Strikeforce debut against 11-0 Californian Billy Evangelista. Fans can tune in to catch things live starting at 10:00 PM EST on Showtime.
PHOTO CREDIT – STRIKEFORCE