EXCLUSIVE: Liz Carmouche Rides 8-Fight Win Streak And Revitalized Career Approach Into PFL 4

liz carmouche
Credit: Cooper Neill/PFL

Liz Carmouche was at a pivotal moment in her combat sports career. Coming off a 2019 loss to Valentina Shevchenko for the UFC women’s flyweight title, Carmouche made a complete change. She signed with Bellator MMA, fully committed herself to training, and found new ways to keep her body as healthy as possible.

The decision paid off. Carmouche enters PFL 4 riding a career-best eight-fight win streak as she meets Kana Watanabe. Carmouche and Watanabe open the ESPN-televised main card on June 13. The women’s flyweight fight takes place inside the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Connecticut.

Related: PFL Semifinals Set For August In Nashville, Florida, Washington, D.C.

“Right before I went on this win streak, I was splitting time between two different camps,” Carmouche told Ringside Intel in an exclusive interview. “I decided to become fully committed and went all in. I have been in a great head space ever since with no conflicting ideas.

“I also decided to take my recovery seriously. I started stem cell to keep my body healthy and push me.”

Change In Training Led To Liz Carmouche Revitalizing, Making Title Run

liz carmouche
Credit: Bellator

Carmouche was conflicted because her previous team encouraged her to train at other gyms. But that left her feeling disloyal.

“Through some encouragement from my wife, I was able to finally address it,” she said. “I have really connected with the fight team I am at now. I went in there and felt like a guppy competing in a room full of dangerous sharks.”

Carmouche had no issue admitting she “got my butt handed to me” in training. “And I loved it,” she admits. “I felt like an amateur again. Some people don’t like being uncomfortable but I enjoyed it. I was working at the same gym I was training at. That meant 12-to-16-hour days. I realized I couldn’t keep doing that for my career.”

After the loss to Shevchenko, Carmouche signed weeks later with Bellator. She made her debut on September 12, 2020, submitting DeAnna Bennett. Wins in 2021 over Vanessa Porto and Watanabe followed, leading Carmouche to competing for the Bellator title in 2022.

Becoming Champion ‘Defined’ Carmouche’s Career

liz carmouche
Credit: Bellator

At Bellator 278, Carmouche finished Juliana Velasquez to win the flyweight title. She earned the finish in the fourth round in Hawaii.

“I always felt like an imposter in MMA,” Carmouche said. “I started so late. Everybody I was training with had wrestled or had a background of some kind. I didn’t. I played soccer as a kid. But when I won that title, I felt like I had made it.”

Read more: Top-10 Fastest Knockouts In UFC History Including Jorge Masvidal, Leon Edwards

Prior to the Bellator win, Carmouche had challenged twice for UFC gold and once for the Strikeforce belt. Along with the loss to Shevchenko, she also fell to Ronda Rousey and Marloes Coenen. Winning the Bellator strap had a massive impact on her confidence and her status as a high-level fighter.

“I did well but I would always have close calls,” she said. “I almost beat the best but I never felt like I arrived (until the title win). I would always try to get there but never achieved it. When I got the belt, I realized I was good at this. It gave me the confidence to say I am an MMA fighter and believe it.”

PFL Season Exactly What She Needed

When Carmouche made her debut in 2010, she fought six times between March and November. For an admitted “newbie” to the sport, that seemed like the norm. It wasn’t.

“I thought that was the tempo of fights,” she said. “Everybody told me that was not how it happens and to slow down. I’d have two fights a year but I wasn’t comfortable with that.”

Carmouche trains year-round, which fits in nicely with the season-long format of PFL. She bested Velasquez back in April and now will compete roughly two months later.

“I prefer this format,” she said. “It makes my training very goal-oriented. That drive and finishing desire every single practice to be in peak performance makes each practice a different energy.”

There is a downside to it, though, for the wife and mother.

“It has been difficult,” she said. “My family lives in Tennessee and I train in Virginia and San Diego. I don’t get to see them for the whole season. My son is finally old enough to talk about it with. But of course, any eight-year-old child doesn’t want to see you go unless you have no connection with them.”

PFL 4 goes down on June 13 and will air on ESPN+.

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