Former Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) women’s bantamweight and flyweight title challenger Liz Carmouche has found herself a new home, as “Girl-Rilla” has inked an exclusive multi-fight deal with Bellator MMA.
Bellator MMA president Scott Coker delivered the news to reporters during a Friday media scrum in Hawaii (h/t MMA Junkie).
Remember, Carmouche was released by UFC earlier this month in a massive roster dump. Fight fans were caught a bit off guard considering the veteran contender had just fought Valentina Shevchenko for the UFC women’s flyweight title back in August and seemed ready to rebound with a successful 2020 campaign. That wasn’t the case, though, as Carmouche was given her walking papers while doing promotional work at a children’s hospital in Washington D.C. Carmouche, who rarely speaks up in the media, believes UFC released her because they couldn’t find her an opponent.
With her release from UFC, Bellator MMA was free to swoop in and sign Carmouche to an exclusive contract. No date or opponent has been named for her promotional debut, but Coker and company are excited to bring on even more talent at 125 pounds.
“We’re continuing to grow out 125-pound weight class division,” Coker said. “Don’t be surprised next year if that is our female tournament. A bit of breaking news we just signed Liz Carmouche today. I had a meeting with her yesterday. We sat down, make a deal and she signed it this morning and we’ll announce it on the broadcast today. But Liz is singed. She will now be fighting in Bellator. It’s going to be another great asset to our 125-pound weight class.”
Carmouche, 35, has been around the sport for over nine years. After successful stints in Strikeforce and Invicta FC, Carmouche was called upon to fight Ronda Rousey for the inaugural UFC women’s bantamweight title back in 2013. While Carmouche ended up losing to Rousey via submission, it is one of the biggest fights in women’s MMA history and a moment in time that fight fans will remember forever.
Bellator MMA is hoping to cash in on Carmouche’s popularity and experience to add depth to an already growing female roster, which just brought on the legendary Cris Cyborg just a few months ago.