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Champ Comes Back: Marloes Coenen Submits Liz Carmouche

Coenen submits Carmouche at Strikeforce: Feijao vs. Henderson.Marloes Coenen had a comeback worthy of a champion Saturday night, taking a brutal beating before pulling off a fourth-round submission to defeat Liz Carmouche and retain her Strikeforce 135-pound championship belt.

It was no surprise that Coenen won with a submission off her back -- that's her specialty -- but it was a surprise that she took so much punishment before she got there: Carmouche was a huge underdog, but she had thoroughly pounded on Coenen in the second and third rounds of the fight, and appeared to be close to pulling off a major upset.

But Coenen, in a move reminiscent of Anderson SIlva's comeback victory over Chael Sonnen, used a triangle choke off her back to force Carmouche to tap in the fourth.

"Liz was whipping my ass," Coenen said. "She will be a future champ some day."

Things got interesting in the second round when Coenen applied a tight guillotine choke from a standing position and held onto it even as they went to the ground, only to have Carmouche pull her head free. Most of the rest of the round consisted of Carmouche on top of Coenen on the ground, and although Coenen attempted multiple submissions off her back, it was Carmouche who controlled things, ending the round with a furious ground and pound assault. Coenen appeared to be in trouble, and she had a black eye.

The third round was even more dominant for Carmouche on the ground, with Coenen becoming less active off her back and Carmouche even more effective with the ground and pound from mount. Late in the round the referee easily could have stopped the fight, and Coenen appeared to be in big trouble.

But Coenen is great off her back, and she showed that in the fourth round. The fight went to the ground once again, but this time Coenen worked her way into a triangle choke and Carmouche tapped out.

Most observers were surprised that Carmouche was such a game opponent, but Carmouche herself wasn't.

"I wasn't surprised," Carmouche said. "I just wish I had finished the right way. I have room to improve and I'm going to do that."

If Carmouche does improve, she'll be one of the best female fighters in the world. She made her mark on Saturday night.