Liz Carmouche, with one beautiful transition to a rear-naked choke, ended all the speculation of a long-awaited rematch going down between Kaitlin Young and Miesha Tate.
Young ran into a beast of a competitor on July 28 at "Invicta FC 2," as Carmouche ended round one in top position and earned a tapout midway through round two when her opponent gave up her back.
Carmouche, a 28-year-old bantamweight, has now won seven of her nine cage fights, including both of her last two. She fought through a significant reach disadvantage, eventually finding her range with leg kicks and power punches as the opening stanza wound down.
Carmouche moves to 2-0 in her Invicta career, while Young drops to 0-1-1 in league fights.
As a former Marine and the first openly gay fighter to compete under the Zuffa banner, Carmouche has a nice back story that can help propel her into the national sports landscape.
Besides Carmouche, here's a look at the rest of the three stars of "Invicta FC 2":
2) Sara McMann: McMann, a 2004 Olympic silver medalist, put Ronda Rousey and the rest of the bantamweight division on notice with a convincing victory over Shayna Baszler, extending her undefeated record to 6-0 in the process.
McMann opened with a flurry of punches, only to be met with highly effective counter strikes from Baszler. That's how it would go for most of the three-round grinder, as the combatants left it all out in the cage to earn "Fight of the Night" and a $1,500 bonus to go along with it.
"I felt that it was a really good fight and I gained a lot of good experience on my feet," McMann told MMARising.com. "I'm always trying to stay on my feet for as long as I can. To go the full first round on my feet, that's just going to reveal so many things that I need to fix and grow on. I think that [Baszler's] very tough on the ground, so it was very important for me to follow a game plan and to be able to execute it. My takedowns come instinctually, so I sometimes battle with that. There are some fights that I want on the feet rather than on the ground."
She added "I think [Baszler] is a lot more comfortable on the ground than she is on her feet, typically, but she had clearly invested a lot of time [training] on her feet also. That's what made it such a knock-out, drag-out fight. She's done a lot of great things on the ground, so I have total respect for her skills, and I thought that the smartest route on this was to keep it standing and then secure a takedown to win the round."
The fight between McMann and Baszler was so close that a rematch may be in the cards somewhere down the line.
3) Alexis Davis: Hitomi Akano wanted no part of Alexis Davis' standup game at "Invicta FC 2," but it was the 27-year-old's skills on the mat that ultimately earned her the victory.
Davis was more than willing to stand and trade blows with her 38-year-old opponent. However, it was a gorgeous transition to a rear-naked choke midway through the second round that would put another 'W' on her resume.
Davis looks better and better each time she steps into the cage, and I'd be shocked if she didn't return to the Strikeforce ranks for her next battle. A tilt between Davis and Carmouche, Miesha Tate or Marloes Coenen would undoubtedly be barn-burners.
Who else stood out from the pack at the "Invicta FC 2" event? Let me know in the comments.
Eric Holden is a lifelong UFC fan and supporter of the sport of MMA. Follow him on Twitter @ericholden.
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- Liz Carmouche
- Miesha Tate