Making her professional MMA debut in 2010, Liz Carmouche is regarded as one of the pioneers of women’s MMA, competing in numerous noteworthy promotions and challenging for a number of titles at both flyweight and bantamweight. Signing with Bellator in 2020, Carmouche is 7-0 in the promotion. Carmouche finished Juliana Velasquez at Bellator 278 to capture the Bellator women’s flyweight title, retaining the belt in finishes of Velasquez, DeAnna Bennett and Ilima-Lei Macfarlane. Carmouche defeated Velasquez again in their PFL debuts in April.


Coming from a family of judokas, Kana Watanabe began training in the discipline at 6 years old, going on to earn black belt status and be a member of the Japan Judo National Team. Making her professional MMA debut in 2017, Watanabe went unbeaten in nine fights in her home country before being signed to Bellator in 2019. After a 4-2 record in Bellator, with her only defeats coming to current champ Carmouche and former champ Macfarlane, Watanabe was successful in her PFL debut in April, defeating Shanna Young.


A finish will clinch a playoff spot for either fighter here; meanwhile, the loser will be eliminated from postseason contention.



Round 1


Watanabe goes for the takedown attempt right away, but Carmouche sprawls. Carmouche already has an arm around Watanabe’s neck as Watanabe tries to get back to her feet. The action moves to the fence. Carmouche gets Watanabe closest to the fence. Carmouche. Watanabe returns to her feet but is met with a couple of knees from Carmouche. Watanabe’s back is put up against the fence.


Short shot on the inside, and Watanabe trips Carmouche to score a takedown. Carmouche tries to work on Watanabe’s arm. Carmouche threatens an armbar or a kimura by the looks of it. Watanabe gets out of it, but now Carmouche’s guard is up. Watanabe looking to punch where possible as Carmouche works from the bottom. Watanabe gets around the guard and throws a couple of short punches, finishing the round on top.



Round 2


Watanabe sprints forward, but again her takedown attempt is sprawled. Carmouche with the inside leg kick. Watanabe tries for the takedown but is stopped again. Carmouche now on top. Carmouche’s legs are locked around Watanabe’s. Carmouche has a hook in on the back. Carmouche threatening a choke or a face crank.


Watanabe manages to get on top, but Carmouche is using her grappling defenses. Carmouche has an underhook in. Watanabe looking for an arm-triangle choke, Carmouche has an arm up in defense. Watanabe trying to free her legs to get more leverage. Watanabe gets her legs free, and that choke is getting tighter! Watanabe transitions it to a rear-naked choke, but Carmouche survives to the bell.




Round 3


Watanabe coming forward again, but this time not pursuing the takedown. Sharp leg kick puts Watanabe down for a second. Watanabe chases the takedown now, and she presses Carmouche against the fence. Carmouche landing some hard strikes as Watanabe continues to pursue the single-leg takedown attempt. A hard one-two drops Watanabe! Watanabe tries to wrestle out, but Carmouche jumps right into back control.



Watanabe is able to get back to her feet, but Carmouche continues to overwhelm with strikes. Watanabe shoots in for the takedown attempt, but Carmouche looks for a guillotine! Carmouche quickly lets go, however. Watanabe trying to work Carmouche over on top, but Watanabe’s leg is caught by Carmouche’s. Carmouche is able to get the guard up. Carmouche lands a few heel shots to Watanabe’s leg. A couple of strong right hands from Carmouche on bottom did some damage to Watanabe. Carmouche trying to sweep but is unsuccessful. Watanabe trying to rain down some ground-and-pound. Carmouche throws up a Hail Mary armbar! And she gets it! She gets the submission with 8 seconds left!



Liz Carmouche continues her pursuit of women’s flyweight gold in a second major MMA promotion!





Liz Carmouche defeats Kana Watanabe by 3rd round submission (4:52) in the PFL Women’s Flyweight Division. Carmouche clinches a playoff spot in her first PFL season

  • Carmouche moves her career record to 22-7 with her 6th career submission
  • Watanabe is eliminated