Liz Carmouche’s flyweight debut did not go as planned in December, 2017. At UFC Fight Night: Swanson vs. Ortega the ‘Girl-Rilla’ dropped a split decision to Alexis Davis, moving her pro record to 11-6. It was the second loss of Carmouche’s career to Davis, the first came in 2013 (on a seriously injured ankle according to Carmouche).
In their most recent fight no round was scored the same by all three judges. And Carmouche feels hard done by, after two of those judges ruled that Davis had the best of her on that night in Fresno, CA.
“I was definitely disappointed,” said Carmouche to Bloody Elbow. “I think Alexis, even speaking with her, and the commissioner, and myself, and the staff of the UFC, we were all under the impression that I won that fight. So it was really difficult walking away with having so many people think that I won it. But I’m also aware that when I leave it to the judges, that’s always a risk that can happen.”
“I definitely think overall I put on the better show,” added Carmouche. “I think the only thing that they’re saying she won off of — cause if you look at strikes landed; mine were successfully landed and hers weren’t — it’s just that she has two submission attempts, but that’s the same as throwing a crazy haymaker that misses; it’s still a miss!”
“But I think that that’s what they’re concentrating more on than anything because she didn’t score takedowns, there wasn’t really strikes landed. There were submission attempts, but both failed. So it’s kind of a hard fight to see that it went her way.”
Carmouche said that “people backstage” told her she should consider appealing the decision with hopes that it gets overturned. Carmouche hasn’t done it, however, and will instead chalk up the loss as a learning experience. Among the valuable lessons taken from that contest was new knowledge of how it felt fighting at flyweight.
Competing at 125 lbs was a revelation, according to Carmouche. “Not only was my health better going into that fight, but I felt great. So I knew there was no question that 125 is the weight class for me.”
Carmouche admitted that she felt “a little bit sluggish” when competing at bantamweight. “I think it was too much weight that was being held on, because it’s not the weight I should’ve been competing in. I was walking around way too close to 135. I was typically walking around at 140. Most people in that class are cutting down to that, that was my walk-around weight. 125 just makes more sense for me because I’m faster, I don’t feel sluggish, I feel much stronger and I feel like I’m on even-keeled ground with any opponent I go against.”
“She brings a lot to the fight, she’s a well-rounded fighter and she’s Invicta champion,” said Carmouche. “So I in no way think this is gonna be an easy fight going in there. I know it’s going to be a good fight and struggle and there’s not an element of MMA that we’re going to touch upon that isn’t going to be a real fight — so I’m really looking forward to it.”
Maia comes into the UFC with a six fight win streak that includes victories over Aga Niedzwiedz, Roxanne Modafferi, and Vanessa Porto. Although she’s never fought in the UFC, Carmouche has plenty of respect for the Brazilian’s accomplishments.
“Everybody has their upbringings,” she said. “I mean, certainly my first few fights were for locals here in San Diego and Mexico, and somebody could look at that and say the same thing like, ‘Okay who’s this person?’ So I definitely don’t want to downplay her ability.”
Carmouche added that, since the UFC’s flyweight division is so young, that Maia’s status as Invicta flyweight champion (a title she vacated on signing with the UFC) is worthy of respect. It’s also giving her added motivation to win the bout and an imaginary version of Maia’s former crown.
Additionally, the newness of the UFC’s flyweight division means, in Carmouche’s opinion, that everything is still to play for. Despite her loss to Davis, Carmouche held firm — at number six — in the rankings. She believes that from that position, a big win over Invicta’s formerly best flyweight puts her in striking distance of gold.
“I think with the 125 division still being formed, I think it takes something as simple as just going out with a great performance to be able to get into title contention,” she said.
Carmouche, the first female fighter to ever step foot inside a UFC Octagon, will get her chance at a great performance this Saturday night. Liz Carmouche vs. Jennifer Maia takes place on the UFC Fight Pass Early Prelims. Those begin at 6:30 PM ET.