Liz Carmouche spoke to FanSided ahead of Bellator 256.
Looking at her resume, it would be tempting to call Bellator flyweight contender Liz Carmouche a veteran of the sport. She has, after all, fought many of the best women MMA has to offer over the course of 11 years and 21 fights. But Carmouche, who fights former Invicta FC champion Vanessa Porto at Bellator 256, has trouble considering herself a “veteran.”
“I’m so focused on my growth in the sport and my evolution that I haven’t really looked back to see how many years have passed in my career,” Carmouche told FanSided in an exclusive interview.
It’s that focus on growth and evolution, says Carmouche, that has kept her feeling in her prime. And in many ways, Carmouche is still very much in the thick of her career rather than on the tail end of it. She is a year and a half removed from challenging Valentina Shevchenko for the UFC title, and just seven months ago, Carmouche made her Bellator debut, picking up her first finish since 2013.
That feeling of new beginnings is keeping things fresh for Carmouche.
“It’s been a while since I’ve had a finish. It’s been a lot of decision wins, so it’s really great to come out there and start a new chapter with Bellator, and doing it while showcasing a different skillset.”
Liz Carmouche will fight Vanessa Porto at Bellator 256
Carmouche says that seeking out new training and knowledge has been key to her career longevity and continued growth. Specifically, her training with 10th Planet jiu-jitsu ace Geo Martinez has helped her develop by leaps and bounds.
Martinez is an elite active jiu-jitsu competitor and the brother of one of Carmouche’s long-time grappling coaches, Richie Martinez. Training with Geo is a move Carmouche wishes she had made sooner.
“In the beginning I was only training with Richie and training with Manolo [Hernandez], and I never got up north, it just seemed like it was too far of a drive to go train with them,” Carmouche said. “I noticed my jiu-jitsu improved so much over a year of training with [Geo Martinez] that I was upset with myself for having not gone out to pursue that earlier in my career.”
“I’ve seen so much growth in the past few years that it doesn’t feel like I’m in a latter point in my career but just in the midst of maybe the beginning or midway through.”
In her last bout, Carmouche was able to showcase some of that jiu-jitsu growth on her way to a submission victory over DeAnna Bennett. She hopes to show more of those skills — specifically techniques that are unique to the 10th Planet system — in her fight against Porto.
“I feel like there are so many moves in the 10th Planet system that I would say look pretty and they look flashy,” she said. “And of course, the names, some are really cool. What’s better, standing there having your hand raised and it’s from the rear naked choke, or it could be from the ‘dead orchard?’ That’s so much cooler. I’d much rather do one of the 10th planet things and show it off, because not only does it look cool and it looks pretty and it looks fancy, but then when the name gets called out… that’s always I think a lot more fun.”
And even though Carmouche hopes to land a trademark 10th Planet submission against Porto (examples include the twister, electric chair, and vaporizer), she isn’t going to risk jinxing that by calling her shot.
“There are actually a few that I really want to show. There were a few I was trying in the last fight and I actually got a little too overzealous in wanting to finish those moves instead of being smarter about it… So there’s a few that I definitely want to show off. I don’t want to say them because I’m hoping that opportunity to get my hand raised with that move in the fight,” she said.
Carmouche acknowledges that she’ll have her hands full against Porto, who is one of the most experienced women in MMA with no obvious weaknesses to her game.
“On paper, I think everything lines up evenly,” said Carmouche.
What will make the difference, then? According to Carmouche, it’s her continued pursuit of new techniques, new training, and new knowledge.
“Vanessa is a veteran of the sport, a former champion that actually has more fights than I do, so it’s always a good opportunity for me when I have somebody like that for me to try and push myself and showcase some new things.”
Bellator 256 takes place on Friday, April 9, 2021, live from the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, CT. Follow along with FanSided for all your live news and highlights.