Strikeforce women’s 135lbs. champion Marloes Coenen again displayed her heart and grittiness under the Strikeforce banner when she defended her championship against tough late replacement Liz Carmouche.
Coenen was originally scheduled to take on Meisha Tate, but Tate injured her knee just two weeks out from the fight and was forced to withdraw. The younger and less experienced Carmouche stepped in for Tate, hoping to make her name by pulling off what would have been the upset of the night. “Girl-Rilla” looked to be close to accomplishing her goal, as she took the fight to Coenen early and absolutely dominated the champion in rounds two and three, establishing mount and pounding away as Coenen did just enough to survive.
Coenen came out looking to turn the momentum in her favor in the fourth frame, looking for and getting an early takedown. Carmouche reversed though and got back on top of the champ, who immediately threw her legs up for the triangle, which she secured at 1:29. Coenen said that she was unsurprised by the success Carmouche found in their fight, predicting that “Girl-Rilla” will one day become a champion.
“I knew she was tough because I saw her fight with Jan Finney. When you’re fighting, before the fight starts you just can’t let it get to you. Because I saw her arms at the weigh-in and I was like, ‘Hmmm, okay..’ She will be champion one day, no doubt,” Coenen said. “She’s so young, she’s so talented, so strong. I’ve got the utmost respect for her.”
Coenen has gone 2-0 since dropping from 145lbs. to 135lbs. in the wake of her hard-fought loss to Strikeforce 145lbs. champion Cristiane “Cyborg” Santos, a loss which may have played a part in her ability to weather Carmouche’s storm.
While still giving respect to the challenger, Coenen said of Carmouche’s offense, “Compared to Cris these are still like kisses.”
Coenen improves to 19-4 with the victory and starts a two-fight winning streak. Carmouche took the first loss of her career in the bout, falling to 5-1.