Who is next in line for a title shot in the women’s flyweight division? Heading into Bellator 256, the smart money was on Liz Carmouche. The former UFC title challenger, in two weight classes, looked like a shoo-in to go up against the newly crowned Juliana Velasquez. However, first, she would need to get past former Invicta FC flyweight champ Vanessa Porto, who was making her promotional debut on Friday.
Ahead of the fight, Carmouche made it clear that she was not expecting a title shot — but also knew that one could be in the waiting. Porto likely knew that as well. Which meant there was a lot on the line Friday.
The fight itself saw the pair circling early, Carmouche firing off leg kicks. A bit of a chess match unfolded in the early going, as both fighters were looking to find range and timing. Most of the round played out like that, in fact, with Porto finally closing the distance in the dying seconds of the round, looking to change things up.
They tied up again early in the second, with Carmouche in control in the clinch. The pair would fight a positional battle, with Porto later looking for a choke. That wasn’t happening, and Carmouche began landing some knees to the thighs. Porto added a few knees of her own in return as the grappling-heavy battle continued, at least until Porto finally broke free with about two minutes left in the frame. Carmouche, however, had more control time by the end of the frame.
Round three saw the fight still something of a question mark, though there was more of an argument of Carmouche being ahead. With the lack of action, and questionable judging earlier in the night (in Moret vs. Yamauchi, for example), the round was still crucial. What unfolded was another round of Carmouche controlling her opponent against the fence, peppering Porto with short punches and knees, just bullying her around. Porto wasn’t about the win the fight with her back against the fence, and that’s what it came down to in the end. The pair would break and trade in the final minute, before Carmouche put the fight right back where she wanted it.
Official Result: Liz Carmouche def. Vanessa Porto by unanimous decision (29-28, 30-27, 30-27)