Liz
Carmouche
closed the book on her rivalry with Juliana
Velasquez
in emphatic fashion at
Bellator 289
.

“Gir-Rilla” successfully defended her flyweight crown in Friday’s
co-main event, as she tapped her Brazilian foe with an armbar 4:24
into Round 2 of their rematch at Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville,
Conn. It was welcome closure after Carmouche’s controversial
fourth-round stoppage of Velasquez at Bellator 278 in April
resulted in her opponent unsuccessfully appealing to have the fight
overturned.

“It felt great. My mindset is to walk into every fight thinking
that I have to earn the belt,” Carmouche said at Friday’s
post-fight press conference. “Every fight, I have to train like I
have to earn the right to have the belt.”

With her first successful title defense in the books, Carmouche
turned her attention to becoming a two-division champion in
Bellator MMA. That will require some cooperation from the
promotion, because Carmuche wants to see the launch of a women’s
135-pound weight class in the near future. She even has a
hypothetical adversary in mind for the inaugural banamweight
championship fight: Team Hurricane Awesome stablemate Ilima-Lei
Macfarlane
.

Ilima-Lei
Macfarlane
and I have been training partners for years,”
Carmouche said. “We have a lot of respect and we’re really great
friends. She wants to retire, and she wants a fight against me to
be her retirement. After her not making weight [at flyweight] her
last time – and who wants to cut all the way down all the time?
– it would make sense to me.

“I want to be Bellator’s 135 champion and I want to hold a belt in
two divisions. And I can’t think of anybody better to do that with
than Ilima – her retirement fight and my opening to a new division
in Bellator. So I want to fight her in Hawaii for her
retirement.”

Thus far, Bellator president Scott Coker hasn’t committed to adding
a 135-pound weight class, with his biggest concern being the lack
of depth in the division.

“It’s mostly wishful thinking, but if there’s one thing I’ve been
doing since I’ve been in Bellator, it’s trying to put things into
fruition and putting out there what I want,” Carmouche said. “… I
think that Bellator is going to listen, and hopefully they’ll meet
me with this and we’ll make a 135 division.”

Regardless of what the future holds, Carmouche shows know signs of
slowing down in her MMA career —even with her 39th birthday on the
horizon.

“When I look at all the other 20-year-olds out there, they may have
youth, but they’re doing it wrong,” she said. “I’m ahead of the
curve of everyone else. It’s mostly my mind over my body. I love
the evolution of the sport. There’s always something new to learn;
[fighting] is just an opportunity to test what I keep
learning.”





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Liz Carmouche Urges Bellator to Launch Women’s Bantamweight Division