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Liz Carmouche rallies for TKO to become champion; Juliana Velasquez disagrees with stoppage

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HONOLULU – Liz Carmouche finally can call herself the champion of a major MMA promotion.

At Bellator 278, Carmouche (16-7 MMA, 3-0 BMMA) defeated then-sitting champion Juliana Velasquez (12-1 MMA, 7-1 BMMA) with a TKO stoppage at 4:47 of Round 4. The bout served as the main event for the card which took place Friday at Neal S. Blaisdell Center as the first of a two-night doubleheader at the venue.

The first four rounds were somewhat closely contested. Carmouche found success with her leg kicks early, but Velasquez made her pay in the boxing department. Two times Velasquez knocked Carmouche down with a punch.

As the bout entered the championship rounds, however, the momentum swung slightly toward Carmouche, who took the fight to the canvas. From there, Carmouche moved to the crucifix position and landed short punches to the head of Velasquez, who found herself stuck.

Referee Mike Beltran saw enough and jumped in, a decision Velasquez and her team made visibly and audibly noted they disagreed with. Immediately after the stoppage, the crowd of first responders, veterans, and military personnel went into a frenzy for one of their own. Meanwhile, Velasquez and her corners pled their case to Beltran, who wasn’t wanting to hear it.

With the victory, Carmouche remains undefeated in Bellator and extends her winning streak to four. As for Velasquez, she loses for the first time in her professional career and it comes by stoppage.

The Bellator 278 results include:

  • Liz Carmouche def. Juliana Velasquez via TKO (elbows) – Round 4, 4:47 – for women’s flyweight title

  • Enrique Barzola def. Nikita Mikhailov via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27) – bantamweight grand prix wild card

  • Danny Sabatello def. Jornel Lugo via unanimous decision (30-26, 30-26, 30-26) – bantamweight grand prix wild card

  • Grant Neal def. Christian Edwards via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)

  • Manny Muro def. Nate Andrews via split decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28)

  • Weber Almeida def. Fabricio Franco via TKO (referee stoppage) – Round 1, 3:01

  • Dante Schiro def. Scotty Hao via TKO (punches) – Round 3, 1:03

  • Blake Perry def. Makoa Cooper via submission (anaconda choke) – Round 2, 4:14

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