Losing that fight changed her life. Just not in the way we typically associate with being on the wrong side of victory in sports.
“It went from ‘I was a nobody on the street, just another person,’” said Liz Carmouche about life after losing to star-in-the-making Ronda Rousey in the first UFC women’s bout last February. “It turned into something completely different. People were coming up to me, they knew who I was us, requesting pictures. On Facebook, people [were] telling me the influence and impact I had on their lives."
For a self-described “recluse,” that’s a tough adjustment. But, it speaks to how relatable Carmouche is to people who aren’t even MMA fans.
"I don't know that I fully can process it,” Carmouche said. “To me, I feel like I play such small role in this life and this world. For me to not really have an opportunity to know the person personally but to still have an impact on the person’s life, to me, that's mind boggling."
She fits neatly into far more demographic checkboxes than most fighters. She was in the Marine Corps. She served three tours in Iraq. She’s a mixed martial artist. She’s a spokeswoman for the UFC’s new HIV awareness partnership with The Center in Las Vegas. She’s one of the few openly gay athletes in U.S. pro sports.
“I think I'm a different creature from the rest,” said Carmouche, 29. “Growing up, I never thought that I would fall into any category. I felt like I didn't fit in anywhere. So now to kind of be a role model for all these different social groups is a huge change for me, and it's a really humbling change because it was never a place I saw myself being in life.”
Carmouche now defines herself simply – “just me.”
She will be looked at Wednesday night as the No. 4 ranked bantamweight facing No. 6 Alexis Davis at UFC Fight for the Troops in Fort Campbell, Ky.
It’s the third time in the past six years the UFC has promoted such an event. The purpose of the fight card is to help raise money through auctions and donations for the Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund, a non-profit group that aids military personnel who suffered traumatic brain injury during the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
"Having been in the Marine Corps and seeing the influence the UFC and Strikeforce had on military personnel lives, and when they would do similar events in Iraq and on the bases, it just brought up morale so much,” Carmouche said. “So to be a part of it and know that I’m going to play a role in helping bring up military personnel morale, it's just awesome to be on the reverse side of it now."
Three other members of the U.S. armed forces, be it veterans or still on active duty, are on the UFC Fight for the Troops card.
Tim Kennedy, an Army Ranger and Green Beret, headlines the night against Rafael Natal. Kennedy (16-4) is coming off wins over Roger Gracie and Trevor Smith.
Colton Smith, a staff sergeant on active duty in the Army and a Season 16 winner of “The Ultimate Fighter,” fights Season 15 winner Michael Chiesa.
Illinois Army National Guard Sgt. Neil Magny fights Seth Baczynski.
Long Island’s Dennis Bermudez also continues his climb up the featherweight division against Steven Siler. That fight airs as part of the prelims on Fox Sports 1 beginning at 5 p.m. ET. The main card airs at 7 p.m.
Those interested can visit ufcfightforthetroops.com to donate directly and/or bid on items up for auction.