Women's bantamweights Liz Carmouche and Alexis Davis will go to war in the co-main event of Wednesday's (Nov. 6, 2013) UFC Fight Night 31: "Fight for Troops 3" event in Fort Campbell, Kentucky.
Carmouche holds the dubious distinction of being the first woman to get tapped out by Ronda Rousey in Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC), succumbing to a first-round armbar at February's UFC 157 pay-per-view (PPV) show. She recently got back into the win column with a technical knockout over Jessica Andrade at UFC on FOX 8.
Having won three out of her past four mixed martial arts (MMA) bouts, number four-ranked Carmouche will look to continue her quest towards another title shot against number six Davis.
Davis made her UFC debut with a decision win over Rosi Sexton at June's UFC 161. She's an experienced veteran of promotions like Strikeforce and Invicta. Although Carmouche has more name recognition, Davis will bring a dangerous, well-rounded skillset to the Octagon at UFN 31.
There are high stakes on the line in the "Fight for Troop 3" co-main event. Let's take a look at the keys to victory for Liz Carmouche vs. Alexis Davis:
Record: 9-3 overall, 1-1 UFC
Key Wins: Jessica Andrade (UFC on FOX 8)
Key Losses: Ronda Rousey (UFC 157), Sarah Kaufman (Strikeforce Challengers: Bowling vs. Voelker 3)
Keys to Victory: "Girlrilla" is a powerful fighter who has put away six foes via knockout. She utilizes a strong takedown game to slam her opponents to the mat, following up with damaging strikes and effective chokes.
Davis has never been submitted, but she has been knocked out twice. Carmouche should hold an advantage in the striking department. She'll utilize a diverse array of punches and kicks to thwart Davis in Fort Campbell.
Davis has never been known for his striking prowess as she has only two knockout victories to her name. Her glaring strength is her submissions, something Carmouche will be fully aware of. If "Girlrilla" looks to secure a takedown early to control Davis, she'll need to be fully aware of the situation.
Getting too aggressive and leaving a neck or arm exposed could result in a quick and unfortunate ending to the fight. Submission defense is going to be Carmouche's highest priority at UFN 31.
Carmouche has a ton of promise in the still-developing UFC women's bantamweight arena. However, she has wilted in the face of top-level competition in the past, evident by her losses to Rousey, Kaufman, and Marloes Coenen. If she wants to cement herself as a true divisional mainstay, Carmouche needs to prove it with a win over Davis.
Record: 14-5 overall, 1-0 UFC
Key Wins: Rosi Sexton (UFC 161), Shayna Baszler (Invicta 4)
Key Losses: Sarah Kaufman (Strikeforce: Tate vs. Rousey), Shayna Baszler (Freestyle Cagefighting 40)
Keys to Victory: Davis is a highly experienced submission specialist who possesses a black belt in both Brazilian and Japanese Jiu-jitsu. Her grappling skills have led her to seven submission victories inside the cage. She'll be looking to make it eight in Fort Campbell.
Davis will have to exercise caution on the feet when the fight begins. She doesn't have near the striking power that Carmouche does. Davis should use her initial strikes to set up a takedown to gain an advantageous position. If Carmouche takes her down, Davis will still be at home on the mat.
In fact, she could even lull "Girlrilla" into a false sense of security by letting her take it to the ground. It's dangerous proposition, but it could pay off big.
If this fight stays standing, Davis could definitely get nailed with a fight-changing power shot. To avoid that, Davis will need to implement her gameplan. That includes a heavy dose of submission attempts.
Carmouche has been submitted before. It will undoubtedly be easier to make her tap out than to knock her out, so that's great news for Davis. Her biggest hurdles will be in controlling the takedown game and exchanges on the feet.
Carmouche will attempt to use her considerable power to score points with ground and pound. To combat this, Davis will have to stay active while avoiding too much damage. While that's no easy task, Davis has the skills and wherewithal to pull it off.
The biggest win of her career is within reach.
Davis will need to fight a smart fight and avoid big strikes to make it happen.
Bottom Line from Fort Campbell: The bottom line for this fight is that it is a true proving ground for either woman to solidify a spot in the of the women's top five. Carmouche has the fame that her fight with Rousey brought, but Davis is definitely not one to sleep on.
With both fighters possessing strong mat skills, it's going to come down to who can implement their strategy best on the ground. If Carmouche can use her smothering top game and ground strikes to full effect, then it's her fight to lose. On the other hand, if Davis can avoid eating too many punches to look for transitions and submissions, she could pull off the big upset.
This fight isn't being talked about too much but it could deliver an under-the-radar barnburner for fans on FOX Sports 1.
The women's bantamweight division is still very much developing at this point in time. Carmouche and Davis are pioneering members for the female side of MMA. A strong performance will go far in not only furthering their own cause as fighters, but also for women's MMA as a whole.
It's not often that you see a women's bout that doesn't feature Rousey or Miesha Tate in a co-main event, so there's a considerable amount of pressure on both Carmouche and Davis.
Thankfully, they have the skills to deliver.
Liz Carmouche and Alexis Davis will meet in the Octagon to battle for a top spot among women's bantamweights. Whose skillset will shine through in Goiania?