Liz Carmouche is a huge germaphobe, so fighting without fans in the building isn’t the worst thing in the world for the multi-time title challenger. But at the same time, “it’s definitely weird not having crowds,” she told Cageside Press ahead of her return at Bellator 256.
“There’s energy, having fans. Whether it’s negative or positive, whether they’re in support of you or against you, but having that energy there and present in the building, it’s such a huge difference,” she continued. “It’s a static you can feel in the air.”
And whether the fans are for you, or “even if it’s against you, it’s still good energy.”
Carmouche (14-7) made her Bellator MMA debut last fall, defeating DeAnna Bennett in her first fight since being unceremoniously dumped by the UFC while coming off a title fight loss. This Friday at Bellator 256, she takes on former Invicta FC champion Vanessa Porto. It hasn’t been said aloud thus far, but it’s the sort of fight that feels like it could produce a title challenger.
“I’m always hopefully that whatever fight I have is putting me in contention for the title,” said Carmouche. What she doesn’t have, however, is an expectation of a title fight. “Because I don’t want to have all this energy riding on the fact that ‘hell yeah, this is gonna be it!’ and it turns out that it’s going to be somebody else and I’m disappointed.”
So, Carmouche is not getting her hopes up, but at the same time, “I certainly always prepare for the idea that this could be the next fight.” Which requires her to put on her best performance possible.
Ilima-Lei Macfarlane, Bellator’s long-serving flyweight champ, is a friend and teammate of Carmouche. While they had always shown a willingness to fight one another, that will no longer be necessary: Macfarlane lost the belt to Juliana Velasquez last year.
“It’s always a little bit easier knowing it’s not going to be a friend I have to hurt,” admitted Carmouche. Of course, the downside is that Carmouche had to see her friend lose. “It was really difficult to watch that fight.”
“I came at it from two perspectives: one being her teammate and being her friend, of course not wanting to see her get her nose broken or lose that fight, but also as somebody studying the fight and trying to put themselves into contention,” Carmouche continued. And the Carmouche studying the fight had a bit of criticism. “I just didn’t think that performance was championship level, to garner the right to strip Ilima of the belt and change,” she opined.
Instead, added Carmouche, “I definitely think it should have been a draw, in need of a rematch, and not worthy of winning the belt. But that’s just my opinion, and I know now that [Velasquez] has the belt, she’ll certainly step up and put on better performances than she did with the previous fight.”
Liz Carmouche returns against Vanessa Porto this Friday, April 9 at the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, CT.