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Scheduled to make her second Bellator appearance, Carmouche (14-7 MMA, 1-0 BMMA) faces former Invicta FC champion Vanessa Porto in a co-main event showdown Friday at Mohegan Sun Arena.
Carmouche has “been” both Porto (22-8 MMA, 0-0 BMMA) and Bellator women’s flyweight champion Juliana Velasquez in recent years as she’s prepared teammates for fights against the two women she believes are standing in between her and title gold.
“(Porto) is a name I’ve known for a few different reasons,” Carmouche told MMA Junkie on Wednesday. “One, because she’s a veteran, and she’s been fighting longer and has more fights than I do. I think a lot of people don’t realize that in the mix of things. I’m just a well known name. But also, she fought one of my teammates, Pearl Gonzalez. I helped her prepare and studied tons of tape in preparation for Pearl. I was ready to go into this having already studied this opponent.”
The launch of the Bellator rankings placed Carmouche in the No. 2 slot at 125 pounds. The only fighter between her and Velasquez (11-0 MMA, 6-0 BMMA) is teammate Ilima-Lei Macfarlane, who lost the title in December. Situationally, Carmouche thinks Bellator 256 could punch her ticket into a title fight.
“I’m really hoping that by having that spot and having that number, this win really puts me in title contention,” Carmouche said. “I hoped last fight would, but I think certainly with the rankings, that that should be right toward title contention.”
Carmouche, 37, isn’t overlooking Porto. However, she set both short-term and long-term goals. The short-term is to get a win Friday. The long-term is to become Bellator champion. The latter is achievable in her mind. Carmouche wasn’t overly impressed with Velasquez’s title-clinching performance in December.
“I don’t think it was her best performance,” Carmouche said. “… I had already studied her, and I just saw a lot more out of her that I thought was exceptional. Her last fight, I didn’t really think it was championship-worthy. I think she can certainly showcase as a champion. She has a belt, but that fight to me wasn’t her best representation of what she’s actually capable of.”
Bellator 256 takes place Friday at Mohegan Sun Arena. The main card airs on Showtime after prelims on MMA Junkie.
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