Liz Carmouche agrees with controversial stoppage in Bellator 278 title bout: ‘He did the right thing’


Liz Carmouche agrees with the controversial stoppage that led to her winning the Bellator flyweight title on Friday at Bellator 278, because in her opinion, referee Mike Beltran saved former champion Juliana Velsaquez from suffering a much worse fate.

” “I believe he stepped into at the right moment,” Carmouche stated in her press conference after-fight.

” I think that he would have let the situation continue if it had been an orbital breaking, or her becoming unconscious. He acted in self-defense because she was not doing enough to advance her position correctly. She wasn’t protecting it either. It’s better to end a fight this way than for her to go to the hospital without being able remember. So I think he did the right thing.”

Carmouche defeated Velasquez via fourth-round TKO in a come-from-behind performance at Bellator 278 that ended with Carmouche dropping elbows on her foe from the crucifix position. While Carmouche was clearly in control, she didn’t seem to inflict any serious damage using her ground-and pound offense. Velasquez protested immediately after Beltran stopped the match with 13 second remaining.

Velsaquez was ahead on all three judges’ scorecards at the time of the fight-ending sequence, and even held a 30-27 lead on two of them.

Either way, it was a crowning moment for Carmouche. Prior to Friday night, the 38-year-old veteran had fallen short in all three of her prior title bouts in Strikeforce and the UFC, including her historic UFC 157 clash against Ronda Rousey in 2013. She finally took advantage of the opportunity to win her fourth try, and won her first ever career title.

” “I think all those opportunities were only lessons,” Carmouche stated.

” They were my mistakes, the things that I needed to learn from them so I could prepare for today. It was intended to be Bellator and not with any other organizations .”

Carmouche (17-7) continues to be undefeated in all four of her Bellator appearances since parting ways with the UFC in 2019 following a loss to UFC champion Valentina Shevchenko. She has scored finishes in three of those victories, including the 35-second knockout of Kana Watanabe that earned Carmouche her shot at the belt at Bellator 278.

Speaking post-fight, Carmouche was asked about the potential of a rematch with her Brazilian foe, with Velasquez (12-1) having suffered her first defeat in eight appearances in the Bellator cage. The new champion flyweight was direct in her answer.

” I hope so,” Carmouche stated. “I get kind of bored with rematches. I like to see something different and kind of change it up, and I’d love an opportunity to let somebody else in the division work their way up and just see what else I can show off in the cage.”

One of the potential names on that list of new opponents could be another former Bellator flyweight champion, Ilima-Lei Macfarlane.

Macfarlane is slated to meet Justine Kish on Saturday at Bellator 279 in a return from a 16-month layoff following her title loss to Velasquez.

Carmouche and Macfarlane are longtime friends and training partners, but the two also know the time may come when they’ll be opponents as well.

“We’ve said it before, we’re sister wives. We’re always friends,” Carmouche said of Macfarlane. We’ve been together since the very beginning. When she began MMA, it was me who signed her up for her first gym. I was her first training partner, walked her through a lot of her training camps, and we’ve always been there supporting [each other]. You see, she invited me to her Hawaiian luau the last time we were out together. She also gave it to my son as a birthday celebration. We are very close.

“We know that some day we’re going to fight, but it better be the two of us, two people that care about each other and can hurt each other then smile and laugh about it, than anybody else.”