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Vanessa Porto ranks Liz Carmouche her fifth-best opponent ahead of Bellator 256 debut

Vanessa Porto (EL, Invicta FC)
Vanessa Porto makes her Bellator debut against Liz Carmouche on Friday.
Esther Lin, Invicta FC

Vanessa Porto has fought the who’s who of women’s MMA throughout a 16-year career in the sport, and sees Liz Carmouche as one of the best opponents so far ahead of their Bellator 256 bout in Uncasville, Conn., on Friday.

A former Invicta FC flyweight champion who makes her first walk to the Bellator circular cage on a four-fight winning streak, Porto has defeated a list of talents that includes Germaine de Randamie, Zoila Frausto, Roxanne Modafferi and Jennifer Maia, losing to legends likes of Amanda Nunes and Cris Cyborg.

Carmouche is a two-time title contender in the UFC, coming up short against Ronda Rousey and Valentina Shevchenko in multiple weight classes, and the 37-year-old Brazilian sees her as one of her toughest tests in the sport.

“I think she comes in fifth [on my all-time list of opponents],” Porto said in an interview with MMA Fighting. “She’s on a high level. I’d have her in fifth place. Liz Carmouche is an excellent athlete, a veteran, and I think this is a great fight. She counters more and is a good wrestler, moves well, but I’m ready with my muay thai and striking. I won’t let her grapple, but my ground game is ready if needed be.”

Porto stopped Milana Dudieva with strikes and then tapped Mariana Morais with a rear-naked choke before five-round championship decisions over Pearl Gonzalez and Karina Rodriguez in her most recent Invicta FC bouts between 2017 and 2019, and wants a stoppage in her Bellator debut.

“I want to knock her out,” she said. “But the image I keep foreseeing is the referee raising my hands in the end. I hope it doesn’t [last three rounds], but I’m ready for it.”

Speaking with MMA Fighting after inking a deal with Bellator, Porto wasn’t gunning for an immediate shot at Juliana Velasquez’s flyweight belt. Instead, the Brazilian wanted to get her feet wet inside the Bellator cage first before challenging for another title.

Now, Porto said, “I believe I’ll definitely be in the top 10 with a win. I want to see how things go in there first, feel my new home, and there will be many offers after this fight. Let’s wait and see what they have for me. … [Velasquez] is a good athlete, very explosive, but we’re in this business to fight everyone. I want to fight and show any potential.”