Liz Carmouche: If it gets me a title shot then beating Sarah Kaufman means everythingPosted on July 10, 2011, 11:45 PM by Joey Santosus
Heading into her March 5th bout with Strikeforce Women's Welterweight Champion Marloes Coenen, Liz "Girl-Rilla" Carmouche had just five professional fights under her belt. Though two of those match-ups had come on the promotion's Challengers series, it would be her first major Showtime card. Adding to the pressure, she was stepping into the co-main event for an injured Meisha Tate on less than two weeks notice. As she made her way to the cage, it may have seemed to most as if she was being served up to the 19-4 champ - after all, the show must go on, right? Unfortunately for Coenen, somebody forgot to inform Carmouche.
After a close first round that saw the undefeated "Girl-Rilla" test her stand-up against the Golden Glory product, she came out and took charge in the second, implementing a dominate ground-and-pound strategy that brought the challenger within inches of capturing the title. It's a trend that would continue for the duration of the bout, with victory appearing imminent for Carmouche as she continued to overwhelm the champ into the fourth round. It was then, however, that Coenen snuck a hailmary triangle-choke past the defenses of her less experienced opponent, forcing the tap and securing the belt.
Now, just more than four months since bursting into the Women's title mix, Carmouche prepares to go head to head with former division Champion Sarah Kaufman this Friday night in hopes of making her way back to the top and, perhaps, finishing what she started. Here's what Carmouche had to say about her preparations for the bout, suffering her first defeat, and growing up in Okinawa, Japan:
So you've got former Strikeforce Women's champ Sarah Kaufman on July 22nd. What do you think of the match-up and how is your training and preparations going?
I think it's a great match up. I think we have a similar fighting style. It's been so different having a fight in mind during training and commuting two months ahead rather than two weeks.
Now, you just began your professional career in May of 2010 and have already went 5-1, including a title fight in one of the world's largest promotions. How did you get your start in MMA and was it something you knew you would do before entering into your five year stint with the Marine Corps?
I had no idea that MMA even existed when I first entered the Marine Corps. I first got started in MMA just looking for a physical challenge. Then people I worked with suggested I give it a shot and I went for it.
Both you and Kaufman are undefeated aside from one mutual defeat against current Women's Welterweight Champion Marloes Coenen. In your case, however, you stepped in against the champ in your last fight with less than two weeks notice and came within inches of pulling off the upset. How important is this fight in terms of capitalizing on that momentum and do you think that a win here gets you another crack at the title?
I certainly hope that this leads to a contender spot for the belt. If that is the case, then this fight means almost everything aside from a title fight itself.
You went into the fight with Coenen a relative unknown, a major underdog, and ended up dominating her for much of the match-up. You landed an incredible amount of strikes from full mount, before eventually being caught in a triangle-choke. As a result, the fight has drawn comparisons to 2010 comeback of the year candidate, Anderson Silva vs. Chael Sonnen. Between this type of recognition and Coenen telling Mauro Ranallo post-fight that she feels you will one day wear the belt, how has all of this affected you as a fighter?
As a fighter, the only statement that meant anything was what Coenen said to me. I could have let that loss hold me back and negatively influence my training, but it drove me to work harder instead.
Looking back on the match-up and considering the number of strikes landed from the top position, do you feel like the fight should have been stopped?
I definitely thought that the referee was going to call it, and he did make verbal suggestions that he would, but ultimately she defended herself successfully.
Following the loss, you admitted that, as a kinesiology major, your biggest challenge heading into the bout was balancing between your training and studying for finals. Are you still pursuing your education at this time? If so, have you faced similar challenges ahead of this fight as well?
I'm on summer break right now. And while school should be my main focus, it often falls to the wayside to training. My heart is in training, but not so much in school. I know, however, school is a necessity for success nowadays.
Marloes Coenen will be defending her title against Miesha "Takedown" Tate on July 30th. What are your thoughts on this match-up and who do you see coming away with the victory?
I think it's a great match up. Tate has great grappling and wrestling, so against Coenen with great stand-up and jiu-jitsu, it's a hard call.
A lot of people don't know that you actually grew up in Okinawa, Japan. Can talk a little bit about what that experience was like? How long did you live in the Land of the Rising Sun before moving Stateside?
I spent 17 years in Okinawa. That Asian island culture is home for me. The people are really soft spoken and helpful, not anything you would expect in a fighter. But, when it comes to academics and sports, they're very competitive and driven.
I also want to ask you about your nickname. I've actually seen it listed as both "Girl-Rilla" and "Girl-Zilla." So for the record, which one is correct and how did you get the name?
It's actually "Girl-Rilla". It stems from the ridiculous faces I make during training, my strength, and using the cage as a means to climb up to places.
As a Marine, student, and successful mixed martial artist, I think it's safe to say that you are a strong female role model. What advice would you give to other young women aspiring to find such success, especially in predominately male fields such as the ones that you have?
Perseverance and a "I can do anything" attitude.
On behalf of myself and the staff here at LowKick.com, I would like to thank you for taking the time to speak with me, it's been a pleasure. Is there anything you would like to add or any sponsors you would like to mention?
Yeah, thank you to my sponsors: Akimma, Forty Thieves, Build and Destroy, Sacred Savage, JustOneYearMovie.com, Guard Ya Grill, and Ranger Up. Thank you to my trainers: Manolo Hernandez, Walel Watson, Frank Salgado, and Matt Fort. My training partners: Matt Fort, Kevin Dunsmor, Walel Watson, Mike DelaTorre, and Alex Soto. And a big thank you to Elisa, RJ, and my mom.
Don't forget to tune into Strikeforce Challengers 17: Bowling vs. Voelker III, set for Friday night at 11 p.m. ET LIVE on Showtime.