Liz Carmouche did not spend too long on the free-agent market.
The women’s mixed martial arts pioneer has signed a multiyear, multifight contract with Bellator MMA, the promotion announced Saturday. Carmouche was informed of her release from the UFC on Dec. 6 after more than six years with the promotion.
Carmouche competed in the UFC’s first women’s fight against Ronda Rousey in 2013. Her release came as a surprise — she fought for the UFC women’s flyweight title in her last bout, falling to Valentina Shevchenko in August. Carmouche said two weeks ago on Ariel Helwani’s MMA Show that the UFC told her management that she was holding up the division by beating fighters the promotion was trying to build up.
Carmouche, a 35-year-old San Diego resident, is a U.S. Marine Corps veteran and her signing was announced by Bellator during its Salute the Troops show in Honolulu on Friday night.
Bellator’s flyweight division is currently ruled over by Carmouche’s Team Hurricane Awesome teammate Ilima-Lei Macfarlane. Carmouche and Macfarlane have expressed interest in fighting each other, a rarity for friends and training partners.
Macfarlane defends her belt against Ultimate Fighter veteran Kate Jackson at Bellator 236 on Saturday night in Macfarlane’s hometown of Honolulu.