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Liz Carmouche, Juliana Velasquez Share Perspectives on Trilogy Bout at PFL 1


The stakes will be different, but the opponent will be familiar
when Liz
Carmouche and Juliana
Velasquez square off at
PFL 1 on Thursday night.

The flyweight rivals previously met twice in title bouts under the
MMA banner. The first ended in controversial fashion, as
Carmouche claimed the 125-pound belt with a fourth-round stoppage
of Velasquez at Bellator 278. Velasquez, who was finished with
elbows from the mounted crucifix, appealed the ruling on the
grounds that none of the blows were significant enough to warrant a
stoppage. That appeal was denied, and Carmouche retained the title
in more emphatic fashion in the rematch, winning via second-round
submission at Bellator 289.

Carmouche wasn’t especially excited to learn that Velasquez would
be her first PFL regular season opponent, but she ultimately found
the right mindset as she prepared for the trilogy.

“Initially I was disappointed,” Carmouche said during a media call
on Wednesday. “You know, I wanted the challenge, I wanted something
different, but then I saw it as an opportunity to face somebody
who’s probably going to come out there with an entirely different
game plan. Somebody that’s coming out because there’s a $1 million
on the line, who feels like the first two fights didn’t really go
her way, but she felt like she should have won them. She felt like
the first one was controversial, and it was a bad call. The second
one, she was just caught off her game but she was winning up until
that point.

“So that tells me it’s somebody that’s willing to go out there and
be super dangerous. And I can’t rely on them to do the same things
I’ve done before, which means you can’t really create the game plan
that you think you can. So you have to just be ready to make
changes on the fly at every moment.”

Velasquez, meanwhile, isn’t putting too much stock into past
meetings with Carmouche.

“Obviously we’ve faced each other before twice, but I feel like
this is a completely different fight and I’m treating her as a new
opponent. It’s been over a year since we fought,” Velasquez said
through a translator.

“It’s at a new promotion that’s under a new rule set. And we’ve
developed over the past year. Plus we haven’t faced each other and
tested ourselves against each other. So I’m looking at it from that

While Velasquez was unhappy with the result of their first meeting,
that altered her approach in a negative way heading into the
rematch. After taking more than a year away and giving birth to her
daughter, the Brazilian believes she’s now in a better place
mentally than she was then.

“I just feel like in the first fight there was an issue and a
mistake on the referee’s front. That kind of trickled down to the
following fight, where I came in with a sense of revenge, a sense
of, I need to right those wrongs and get this one back,” Velasquez
said. “And that’s not really something that’s constructive for me.
I feel like I compete better and I’m a better person, a better
fighter, when I’m happy and when I’m able to fight happy. So, end
of last year, I had a daughter who’s putting a big smile on my face
and is a big catalyst to my happiness.” Because of their history,
Carmouche expects Velasquez to come out with nothing to lose on
Thursday night in San Antonio.

“[It] means that she’s gonna come out dangerous and take risks that
she probably never would have taken in the first two [fights],
especially to prove herself in a new organization,” Carmouche said.
“So that’s a really dangerous opponent that I have to be on my toes

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