Veteran Liz Carmouche is ready to make a splash in her new promotional home with Bellator after a series of “weird” changes with UFC ownership spelled the end of her octagon tenure.
Carmouche, a one-time UFC bantamweight title challenger, felt a shift when the promotion was acquired in 2016 by entertainment giant WME-IMG, resulting in a series of interactions that made her feel unwelcome.
When a pink slip came during a PR gig, Carmouche was “in some ways shocked, and in other ways, not at all.”
“When the new ownership took over, there were just a lot of changes that were just really weird to me and didn’t make sense,” she said at a virtual media day for her promotional debut against DeAnna Bennett on Saturday at Bellator 246, which takes place at Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Conn. “People getting opportunities for fights that a lot of people felt didn’t like deserve it. So those kind of things made it really questionable who was actually going to be able to stay in the organization.”
Things deteriorated further, Carmouche said, after her disastrous title rematch against Valentina Shevchenko. She indicated the promotion both strung her along and strong-armed her after a lopsided loss to the champ at UFC Uruguay in August 2019.
“I kept asking for fights, saying I’m ready, and we’d get, like, ‘Don’t worry, you’ll get something,’ but not giving me phone calls back,” she said. “Weird to me that I had opportunities where I was injured, and I was told I had to take the fight or I’d be blacklisted, and then other girls could say no to me at every opportunity and every turn, was another thing that was, OK, that’s not really right.”
Like several other high-profile octagon vets, Carmouche shopped around after her release and wound up signing with the ViacomCBS-owned promotion. She will make her debut in the same division as her longtime training partner and friend, Ilima-Lei Macfarlane. But she said they’ll have no problem punching each other in the face for a title.
Check out the full interview above.