Liz Carmouche never planned to be a role model, but now is relishing the job

Maggie Hendricks

TORRANCE, Calif. -- On Saturday, Liz Carmouche will be one of the first women to fight in the UFC. Along with bantamweight champion Ronda Rousey, Carmouche will make history. Her status as a main event fighter has translated to a brighter spotlight on Carmouche, a soft spoken but confident woman.

She thanks her opponent for that increased spotlight, but doesn't think she could follow in Rousey's foot steps. If Carmouche takes the belt on Saturday, she doesn't expect to be nude on ESPN the Magazine's Body Issue, as Rousey was in 2012.

"I'm sure there will be some attention, but if I win, you won't see me doing poses on magazine covers. It's not my personality," Carmouche said.

But she knows the kind of attention Rousey brought with the ESPN cover and her outspoken personality is what helped women get to the UFC. She said what will continue to help women's MMA grow is for other female fighters to be themselves when selling fights. If that means gracing the covers of magazines, go for it.

"It depends on how comfortable they are doing it. I don't think anyone should try to put themselves in a situation or push themselves out of the zone that they don't feel comfortable and safe in. If that's something she can do, great, because I couldn't do it. I'm too insecure to do that. But if they can, absolutely do it. If not, just be yourselves. Our personalities and our stories should be able to win people over."

[Related: Ronda Rousey doesn't want to touch the UFC title belt before fighting]

Carmouche couldn't always be herself. She served in the Marine Corps for five years. Her three tours of duty in Iraq happened while the military was still under the "Don't ask, don't tell" policy. It's since been repealed, but Carmouche had to stay closeted about her sexuality for so long.

As a trailblazer for both women and the LGBT community, Carmouche has fallen into the job of role model. She says it's something she never sought out, but now is happy to be in that role.

"To be closeted for so long was so difficult. I never planned to be in the place I am today, but for it to have fallen into place is an honor. I've heard nothing but positive feedback and support. I want to be somebody they can look up to so that they can come out."

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