Considering how closely the striking could play out on the feet, I would not be surprised to see Carmouche look to employ her strengths on the floor.
A powerhouse since stepping onto the Strikeforce scene, Carmouche’s strength and athleticism have lent themselves nicely to her takedowns and top game. Carmouche carries some deceptive explosiveness to her shots in the open, though she tends to secure the majority of her takedowns from the fence or in the clinch.
When unable to take her opposition from this space, Carmouche does well at controlling the striking traffic through solid underhooks and head position. That said, she’ll be facing another savvy clinch fighter when she locks up with Velasquez.
Representing her country in judo, Velasquez demonstrates the rock-solid base you would suspect when having to defend takedowns or balance on one leg. From turning single-leg attempts into back takes to spinning out of leg lock attacks, the 35-year-old seems to have all of her defensive flows and fundamentals in check.
Like many of the more successful judokas who have transitioned to MMA, Velasquez also has no issue hitting takedowns from the clinch when she chooses to, but will also smartly mix in more wrestling-style shots into her repertoire (especially if she can corrall her opponents toward the fence).
However, given the grappling chops of Carmouche, I’m not sure how much the champion will be looking to engage in close this weekend.
Carmouche, who is a black belt in jiu-jitsu under the 10th Planet system, has displayed a ton of improvement off of her back in recent years. Utilizing lockdown tactics in conjunction with 50/50 threats, Carmouche shows excellent wherewithal from bottom position and is not beyond snatching up leg-locks when they present themself.
What I appreciate most about Carmouche’s ground game is her apparent awareness of the importance of getting behind the knees and elbows of her opposition, as this allows for advantageous angles of approach within the grappling realm. And whether she’s hunting for the back or looking to secure position topside, Carmouche appears to be a dog on a bone when she feels like she’s got a good bite.
Should the challenger find herself in top position, then we will likely get a better look at Velasquez’s game from bottom (which left a lot to be desired when you look back at what Ilima-Lei Macfarlane was able to do to her at the end of round four in their fight).