After Bellator women’s flyweight champion Juliana Velasquez secured her first title defense last July, it was back to the gym after a brief vacation. And since then, she’s known exactly who she would be facing: Liz Carmouche.
“I’ve been training for her all this time, I’ve just been waiting for Bellator to give me a date,” Velasquez (12-0) told Cageside Press in an exclusive interview recently.
That date is soon the arrive. The pair face off in the main event of Bellator 278 later this month, the first of two back-to-back shows in Honolulu, Hawaii.
Velasquez and Carmouche have been on a collision course seemingly ever since the former UFC title challenger joined Bellator MMA. And the champ is well aware of the interest in this particular match-up.
“I think that as far as name recognition goes, it will be the biggest one, because she’s been around so long. She fought for the title in Strikeforce, she fought for the title in the UFC many times,” Velasquez acknowledged, before adding “but skill-wise, I think I’ve fought many tough and well-skilled fighters, and they are as tough as the fighters from any other promotion. I don’t take anything away from them, and I don’t think it would be fair to say their level is different.”
The difference ahead of this particular match-up, Velasquez opined, is that “I think based on Liz’s name and what she’s accomplished, there will be more fans interested and trying to measure where I’m at, but I don’t think I’m behind any fighter in the world — and I plan to prove that with this next one.”
Juliana Velasquez may be fighting one UFC alum later this month, but it’s another UFC fighter many would like to see her up against: Valentina Shevchenko. Velasquez, for her part, understands the interest.
“I think that would be a clash of titans. We’re both southpaw fighters, we’re bout strikers mainly, and we’re bout judo black belts. I think the biggest question is, we’ve seen pretty much everything in Valentina’s game, we already know what she’s going to do and how she’s going to do it,” Velasquez explained when asked about the hypothetical match-up. “Me, sometimes, the strategy could be to take my opponent down, but I’m having so much success on the feet that I don’t even need to try it.”
“Perhaps that could be a fight that I would show more aspects of my game,” she continued. “So far, there are things in my game that people are yet to see. So I didn’t need to pull out all my cards, and she did; in her fights so far, we know how she is on the ground and on the feet. I think that could be a fight that would make me use all my weapons, and that could surprise her. I think what she’s capable [of doing] is pretty much well-known by now, and that could be an advantage for me. But it would be a clash of titans, she’s a very dominant champion and so am I.”
The dominant champ returns to the Bellator cage on Friday, April 22, 2022 at the Neal S. Blaisdell Arena in Honolulu, Hawaii. Check out our full interview with Juliana Velasquez above.