Raise your hand if you know that Ronda Rousey is an armbar specialist.

Now keep your hand raised if you’re familiar with the strengths of Liz Carmouche.

Chances are all the hands in the room were held up high after the Rousey question, and then dropped when asked about Carmouche. This is symbolic of how one-sided the conversation and marketing has been for the upcoming championship fight between Rousey and Carmouche at UFC 157 in Anaheim, Calif.

It’s no secret that the UFC is banking on Rousey to be successful for many years to come. The promotion believes she will be the dominant champion that the women’s division needs to sustain interest from MMA fans who may be turning a blind eye to females fighting within the UFC. There’s nothing wrong with that, but what the UFC has done in turn is completely overlook the strengths and marketability of the woman challenging for the belt – Liz Carmouche.

Carmouche spent time in the U.S. Marine Corps and when you talk to her you get a sense of the military background in how she speaks. When answering questions, she will look directly in your eyes with confidence while preserving a genuine charm that she has about herself. Should she beat Rousey, there’s no reason why she can’t become as marketable as the armbar specialist.

The “Girl-Rilla,” as Carmouche is called, is also the first openly gay fighter to be placed on the UFC roster. It remains to be seen if this would help the potential champion with her popularity or if it would always simply be a byline of her biography. For whatever reason, it doesn’t seem to be a big deal to most of the MMA community. We don’t hear very many refer to her as “the gay fighter,” as we probably would if it were a male fighter who announced he was gay.

Rousey has become the face of women’s MMA because she has sex appeal and has found a way to be successful inside the cage. Gina Carano did the same thing a few years ago. In between the two of them, the dominant person for WMMA was Cristiane “Cyborg” Justino. Cyborg beat Carano to a pulp, and all people wanted to know was when Carano was going to come back—she never did.

Why didn’t Cyborg capture that momentum and become the biggest thing in WMMA after her win against Carano? The answer is simply because she does not carry the same sex appeal and marketability as a Carano or Rousey. Even if the now Tito Ortiz-represented Cyborg dominates the Invicta roster for a couple of years and then beats the best woman the UFC has to offer, she would still fall incredibly short of the popularity Rousey gained in 2012.

That’s what is so bothersome about Carmouche being overlooked. Sure, some may say she was given the title shot against Rousey as an argument to why she is not being discredited, but there’s a good possibility she was put there by the UFC to be a “gimme” for Rousey.

Carmouche should excite fans because she has a legitimate shot of knocking out whoever she fights, including Rousey. Although her professional career only spans about three years, she has knocked out half of her opponents while submitting the other two. Overall, Carmouche is 8-2, with her two losses coming against the highly-touted Marloes Coenen and Sarah Kaufman.

If you recall the fight Carmouche had against Coenen, it may shed some light as to how she will come out and fight Rousey on Saturday night. Coenen is also a submission specialist (15 of her 21 wins have come via submission), and Carmouche was dominating her as they headed into the fourth round. Unfortunately for Carmouche, Coenen seized an opportunity and was able to secure a triangle submission win in the fourth round.

We all know Rousey’s game plan. She is going to rush Carmouche and throw caution to the wind in an attempt to get a hold of her. It’s a dangerous tactic for Rousey, but it’s one she will continue to use as long as she manages to avoid any sort of serious blow to the head. Once the rush has taken place and she has a hold of her opponent, she’ll then make the effort to judo throw her to the canvas. From there, it’s all over and Rousey works her way into an armbar win.

If we know that, then Carmouche and her camp must know that. There’s just something inside me that keeps thinking Carmouche is going to catch Rousey when she rushes the ex-Marine. Rousey drops to the floor and the “Girl-Rilla” mounts her back and continues the onslaught of punches to the side of the head before the referee finally steps in.

You don’t have to pull for Carmouche, but don’t be surprised if she has the belt propped in front of her at the post-fight press conference on Saturday night.

Photo: Liz Carmouche (L) delivers a kick (Invicta FC)

About The Author

Joe Chacon
Staff Writer

Joe Chacon is a Southern California writer that has also spent time as a Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report, as well as a Staff Writer for Operation Sports. Joe has a passion for the sport of MMA, as well as most other sports.

  • Robby Collins

    Good stuff. This one has the makings of an Eduardo Dantas vs Tyson Nam fight. However, I think Rousey will win a decision and leave the UFC split on whether to continue the women’s division.