So, funny story. On Monday, I interviewed Liz Carmouche ahead of her fight with Roxanne Modafferi at UFC San Antonio. The very next day it was announced that Carmouche had been pulled from that fight to face Valentina Shevchenko for the title at UFC Montevideo on August 10th instead. There were rumors going about that the UFC wanted the fight, but it had fell through. Psych. Liz Carmouche is getting her second shot at UFC gold. I asked her, thinking she hadn’t got the call yet, if she deserved the title shot. Here’s what she said:
“Absolutely. I think that little press release leak was just evidence that I’m that much closer to getting that belt.”
Well, now she’s getting that long deserved shot. With a win over Shevchenko in 2010, Carmouche will be looking to repeat history and capture a UFC championship in the process.
On to the regular interview…
Carmouche made the switch from 135 to 125 the second the division opened. Since then, she’s gone 2-1, with the one hiccup in her first fight at 125. She feels stronger than ever now, having dominated in back to back fights, earning her the number 3 contender spot. “I feel real good at 125. I feel healthier, faster. All together 125 feels perfect,” Carmouche said, very optimistic of her new weight class.
To be a world champ, you have to grow constantly. Carmouche wants to keep doing just that. After not being completely happy with her fight against Lucie Pudilova, Carmouche wants to build and grow off of that. She says, “I always want to improve. I never want to be the same fighter from day to day. I’m looking to improve on the things I did in that fight. Grow in the areas that I did well and make sure I’m sharper with it. That was a fight that going in, we had a game plan. Then on that day, she came out like nothing I’ve ever seen. She’d never, ever acted like that in a fight. So I had to modify what I was doing and had to capitalize on all those improvements.”
You can train harder, or smarter. Or you can do come crazy stuff. Liz opted for the crazy stuff. “I’m doing two new things training. One, I’m doing a lot more underwater training. Underwater fitness stuff. A lot of fun. Just the healing element of the decompression underwater is just great for training. I’ve also been training with Martinez in El Salvador I’ve just been learning so much from them. And of course, my team, and my coaches Bill Crawford, Gio Martinez and Ritchie Martinez.”
Yes, underwater training. It gets crazier from here. She is SPARRING UNDERWATER! I had to ask more about it. “There are two sides to this. You do kind of the fitness thing with dumbell carries through the water, swimming through the water and stuff like that. It’s just that compression and the endurance of having to do all of this without oxygen. But, we also do a fun part where we spar under water. Just knowing you can tap somebody out, or you can escape a submission all the way, 14 feet underwater, knowing you are not anywhere close to oxygen. Knowing that you can defeat them or escape something, that creates that confidence in your body. You know going into a training session or a fight knowing, ‘I can do this without any benefits of oxygen there’s no way anyone is training like that.'”
Yes, Liz is wrestling 14 feet underwater. It’s that kind of training that could be the difference maker between her and UFC gold.
Liz Carmouche also competed in Sakuraba’s QUINTET this year. It’s a team jiu jitsu tournament that has been all the rage recently and she was ecstatic to go back to Japan, where she grew up, and compete in front of them.
“It was a lot of fun. One, getting to meet so many great people going out, it wasn’t my first time going to Japan, I grew up in Japan. But, going there as a competitor, knowing people are coming there to watch you fight was just a crazy world to go in to. It was a place I grew up and I knew the community. Nothing like I’ve ever experienced before. It was just so much fun and there were so many great people. I definitely want to compete again.”
One more question I had for Liz, how in the world is she so strong? She seemingly out muscles her opponents with brute force strength. With her wrestling background and her Marine Corps experience, Carmouche says she simply has the guts. That’s it. Guts.
“Willpower. I wouldn’t say it’s genetics, if you look at my family they’re not weak by any means but I wouldn’t say that strength is what they are known for ever. It’s really just my upbringing. I was told that there is nothing that can hold me back. So when I’m going in there with training partners, even if it’s a heavyweight guy, I’m looking over there like, ‘oh okay, this is how much weight we’re supposed to lift?’ And they’re like, ‘Nononononono. That’s for him. You’re over here,’ and I’m like, ‘oh!’ There’s nothing in my head that I can’t do. So I don’t restrict myself with those things.”
Congratulations to Liz Carmouche on her next title shot at UFC Montevideo. She faces a very tough opponent in the incumbent champion, Valentina Shevchenko. All the luck, Liz!