Liz Carmouche (8-3, 0-1 UFC) vs. Jessica Andrade (9-2, 0-0 UFC)
Carmouche and Andrade will compete in the first-ever women’s bout to be featured on the FOX network as they open the night’s main card. Carmouche made history in February as she competed in the first-ever UFC women’s bout when she challenged Ronda Rousey for the UFC Women’s Bantamweight Championship at UFC 157. Rousey submitted Carmouche, and now she looks to get back into the win column. Carmouche is just 2-3 over her last five fights. Andrade is making her UFC debut on the strength of two straight wins, and wins in seven of her last eight fights. Andrade is coming in off a submission win over Milana Dudieva in April.
Fight Breakdown- Carmouche was set for a high-profile bout against Miesha Tate when it was originally announced that she would be fighting on this card, but following an injury to Cat Zingano, Tate was pulled to coach “The Ultimate Fighter 18″ opposite Ronda Rousey, that left Carmouche without an opponent. Andrade was signed to the UFC to fill the spot against Carmouche and make her UFC debut. This fight will mark the first time Andrade has ever fought outside of Brazil, where she has scored all nine of her wins, with four by knockout and five by submission. Five of her last six wins have come by submission, with four of those submission wins coming from a guillotine choke. Much like Carmouche, Andrade is very open about her personal life, and it will make for an interesting dynamic when the two women step into the cage on Saturday night.
Carmouche is the better of the two women on the feet as Andrade has limited standup, but Carmouche likes to specialize in her takedowns and ground-and-pound. Andrade has very good submission skills and can find chokes from any position, and if Carmouche gets too comfortable in the top position, Andrade likes to sink in guillotine chokes. Andrade, while her striking skill is still a work in progress, she does have some power in her hands, and she has dropped opponents and finished them with punches. Carmouche likes to brawl as she uses it to utilize her typical gameplan of forcing her opponents into clinch battles, mainly against the cage. Carmouche likes to pin her opponents against the cage and mix in some dirty boxing, which allows her to rag-doll her opponents and take them down to the mat.
Both ladies will be looking to move the fight onto the ground where each will look to control the fight. Carmouche is physically strong and has good slams and relentless ground-and-pound that drains her opponents’ gas tanks. Andrade has unorthodox takedowns, and she will use her submission skills on the ground in making transitions to sink in a submission. Carmouche likes to dictate the tempo and pace of the fight, and while both women have the same amount of fights on their resume, Carmouche has more experience fighting women such as Rousey, Sarah Kaufman and Marloes Coenen. Carmouche will be relentless and it will wear down Andrade. Andrade will need to find a submission if she expects to defeat Carmouche, but Carmouche’s aggression and pressure will be enough to give her the win on Saturday night.
Why It Matters- Carmouche almost did the impossible when she fought Rousey in February, coming very close to submitting Rousey. She ended up losing, but she became a bigger star in losing, and the way the fight went down made a future rematch between the two women intriguing. Carmouche likely needs two wins to get another title shot and that starts against Andrade. A win gets her back into the hunt and will secure her a big fight, perhaps against the winner of Sara McMann vs. Sarah Kaufman next month. A loss would derail her aspirations for another title shot, and she will do everything she can to win.
Andrade is making her UFC debut and will have a future in the organization for the foreseeable future. She is taking the fight as an injury replacement and that will score her some praise for the organization, but she is taking the toughest fight of her career. The betting odds are against her, meaning a win will be something that many will not expect. She will be looking to score the upset, and at the same time a win will put her right in the mix for a title shot in the developing women’s bantamweight division.