Former Marine, Liz Carmouche was attracted to MMA Fighting for the challenging athleticism, but before long, she would rise to the top of her class. In addition to her rapid success, Carmouche found more acceptance as an out lesbian in the male-dominated, violent sport than she ever had in the armed forces.
"After having to keep that aspect of my life secret while I was in the military, I realized that it wasn't the person I wanted to be," Carmouche told MMAFighting.com writer Ben Fowlkes. "I wanted to be open and honest about it and take the risk rather than hiding it."
She said she was nervous the fist time she entered a San Diego gym to train, but, Carmouche’s desire to take and give a beating, even after she’d had her nose smashed in, “meant much more to her training partners than her sexual preference. Her fighting ability and work ethic trumped everything else, and no one seemed to care who she shared her bed with at night," she said.
Carmouche said she was surprised and relieved to find acceptance among her peers.
"I thought, of all things, a male-dominated sport and a sport where you're engaging in this physical combat, that I was definitely going to come across that. I thought I'd come into contact with some stereotypical person who's anti-homosexuality, whether it be men or women. But I found the opposite. All they care about is a good, quality person who's a good training partner. Apart from that, what you do with your personal life, they really don't care."
Carmouche recalled that when she first saw an MMA fight while serving her second tour in Iraq, she was appalled at the bloody battle. But eventually, the challenge of “unarmed combat” appealed to her and she started training as a conditioning program, at first.
But, "The first time I got to really hit somebody in the face, that changed everything," she said.
Her skill developed rapidly, resulting in more than a few men taking a harsh beating at her hands.
Carmouche skipped amateur MMA in favor of going straight into the pros, because her coach said they couldn't find any other amateurs willing to fight her.
"People would get a look at her and they wouldn't want any part of it," her coach said.
She went on to win five in a row and take on the champion for a shot at the title.
Read more about Carmouche’s rise among pro MMA fighters, her time in the Marines under ‘DADT’, and her fights in the complete story, on MMAFighting.com now.