Newly-crowned Bellator flyweight champion Liz Carmouche claimed her first world title at Bellator 278, but had to field questions about the manner of her victory after a controversial finish to her title fight with Juliana Velasquez.
The pair met in the main event in Honolulu, Hawaii, with Carmouche claiming a fourth-round TKO finish when referee Mike Beltran waved off the fight with Carmouche raining elbows down on Velasquez, who was trapped in a crucifix.
While the champion appeared unable to defend herself, the strikes from Carmouche did not look hugely damaging, and Beltran’s swift intervention left some – including Bellator fight analyst and former Strikeforce champion Josh Thomson – calling for an immediate rematch.
Chatting with reporters backstage after her victory, Carmouche said she felt the stoppage was warranted, and only saved the Brazilian from possible injury.
“Yeah, I think he stepped in at the right time,” she stated.
“I think if he’d let it continue, it could have been a broken orbital. It could have been her going unconscious.
“I think that when he stepped in, it was the right thing to do to protect the fighter, because she wasn’t doing anything to correctly advance her position safely and she wasn’t do anything to defend it.
“I’d much rather see the fighter step up and us be able to shake hands rather than her go to the hospital not remember it happened. So I think he did the right thing.”
There have been calls for a rematch, but Carmouche admitted she’d prefer that she takes a different path as champion.
“I hope not, you know, I get kind of bored with rematches,” she said.
“I like to see something different, and kind of change it up. And I’d love an opportunity to let somebody else in division work their way up, and to see what else I can show off in the cage.”