Liz Carmouche and DeAnna Bennett both made their promotional debuts at Bellator 246 Saturday night — with decidedly different expectations placed on them.
Carmouche, a former two-time title challenger in the UFC, had been slotted in as an immediate threat to the flyweight division. Originally scheduled to headline a card earlier this year prior to the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, Carmouche still appeared to be on the fast-track to a shot at gold, at least with a solid performance.
Bennett, a fun personality who first caught the eye of MMA fans on The Ultimate Fighter, had considerably less pressure on her. But Bennett, who missed weight for the affair, still had both a lot to prove, and a big opportunity in front of her.
Carmouche took less than a minute to take the back of Bennett Saturday night. Ever so briefly, it looked as if she might even be in position for a twister. Bennett, however, escaped to her feet. Still, it was Carmouche leading the action, using her strength to control DeAnna Bennett along the fence. Late in the round, they’d wind up tumbling to the ground, Carmouche rolling but unable to come out on top.
Bennett found a little more success in round two, putting Carmouche on her back with just over three minutes left in the frame. From there, in Carmouche’s guard, she was able to work in some ground n’ pound. Liz would attempt to power back to her feet, but Bennett stayed on her, heavy on the head and neck, forcing Carmouche back down. Carmouche then changed tactics, attacking with a heel hook. Bennett landed some heavy punches to the exposed ribs of Carmouche, and was soon out of danger.
Entering round three, there was a very real possibility that the fight was split, one round a piece. Carmouche’s corner certainly believed that to be the case. Carmouche immediately looked for a takedown along the fence. Bennett defended with a kimura, and controlled the wrists to remain standing. Camouche, with a wide base, stayed on the attempt, trying to pull Bennett’s leg out from under her.
Showing some dogged determination, Carmouche stayed on Bennett, finally jumping onto Bennett’s back. The neck was exposed, Carmouche latched onto it, and forced the tap!
A successful debut for Liz Carmouche, but not any easy one by any measure.
Official Result: Liz Carmouche def. DeAnna Bennett by submission (rear-naked choke), Round 3, 3:17