Meet Liz Carmouche
Liz “GirlRilla” Carmouche is no stranger to living overseas. In fact she’s spent more of her life outside the continental US than she’s spent inside our shores. From age three, Liz was raised on the Japanese island of Okinawa where her step-father taught school and where Karate was born. “I loved it,” Liz says. “It was a great island lifestyle and the people always were helpful and inviting.”
Okinawa is also known for the several thousand US Marines stationed there, so Liz was exposed to the military lifestyle early on. Liz’s first job was on a Marine base, but it was her best friend’s father who really influenced her. “He was a Marine and represented everything I wanted to be, so he was very instrumental in my decision to join the Corps.”
At the age of 20 Liz joined the US Marine Corps as a helicopter electrician and spent the next five years in San Diego at Camp Pendleton. Well…some of those five years were in San Diego. Twenty-one months of her enlistment were in the hot sands of Iraq.
At the age of 25 Liz left the Corps and enrolled full time as a student at San Diego Community College to get her degree in Kinesiology when a co-worker suggested she try MMA in December, 2009. We’d like to think she drooled over the thought of punching people in the face, but she’s too humble for that.
“Actually I was looking for a physical challenge after the Corps and thought MMA would be fun and fulfilling,” she says. “I love how the sport constantly evolves. People who have been in it for years are still developing. There’s always room for growth and change.”
Fifteen months and five straight wins later, Liz got the call to step up and fight Strikeforce women’s welterweight champion Marloes Coenen on two weeks notice. It was March, 2011 and many would have shrunk from this challenge, but Liz embraced it and gave the champ a beating that she won’t soon forget. Liz mounted Coenen twice and delivered some hefty ground and pound before getting caught in a triangle submission. It was her first loss.
“I wanted to win, but I learned so much from that fight. Marloes has been fighting for 11 years and had four times more fights than me and I did so well against her. It’s hard to be disappointed with that.”
Liz aspires to fight full time, be a personal trainer, and teach kids MMA and Muay Thai after she gets her degree. But she can’t go back to Okinawa. Her parents moved to Guadalajara, Mexico. Time to trade in those sake cups for tequila shot glasses.
Follow Liz on twitter @iamgirlrilla