Bellator 278 Breakdown: Juliana Velasquez vs. Liz Carmouche

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While the sport of MMA went dark on Thursday, this week’s action picks right back up the next night, on an evening when not everybody will be watching USFL action or the NBA Playoffs.

This time around, Bellator MMA heads to The Big Island for a weekend doubleheader, beginning on Friday night with Bellator 278 and a championship confrontation at 125 lbs.

However, the card has taken several major hits ahead of the show, as a few initially-scheduled fights have been canceled for Friday, with the final version of Bellator 278 featuring a lighter than anticipated card of just eight fights total.

Bellator Says Aloha to Women’s Flyweight Championship in Bellator 278 Main Event

Honolulu’s Blaisdell Arena will play host to both Bellator 278 and Bellator 279 this weekend on The Big Island of Hawaii as the promotion says aloha to its Women’s Flyweight Championship in the Bellator 278 main event on the Showtime premium cable network (9 pm ET/ 8 pm CT.)

Incumbent Bellator Women’s Flyweight Champion Juliana Velasquez (12-0 MMA, 7-0 Bellator) will put her title and her undefeated record at risk against challenger and No. 2 contender Liz Carmouche (16-7 MMA, 3-0 Bellator.)

As with all MMA championship fights, the Bellator 278 main event will be a maximum of five rounds at five minutes per round to close the first night of action in Honolulu.

Bellator 278 Main Event Fighter Comparison

Heading into the Bellator 278 main event on Friday evening, both contestants stand level at 5-foot-5.

While they stand level in height, these women get some separation between one another in reach, as the champion holds a 1 1/2-inch reach advantage (67 1/2 inches to 66 inches even) over the challenger on the tale of the tape going into the Bellator 278 main event this weekend.

Champion Juliana Velasquez Considers Challenger Liz Carmouche as Lesser Competition Ahead of Bellator 278 Main Event

Champion Juliana Velasquez has yet to lose thus far in her 13-fight MMA career, most recently defending her flyweight strap for the first time via split decision against Denise Kielholtz on July 16 of last year during the Bellator 262 main event inside Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, CT.

In Wednesday afternoon’s media availability, Velasquez didn’t speak kindly about her upcoming adversary in the Bellator 278 main event.

“It’s not up to me. She was ranked No. 1,” Velasquez said through her translator. “It’s not up to me to decide who I’m going to face next. I guess she’s No. 1, so let’s go. She’s very experienced, but today, I’m the world champ, not her. I look at the poster and I’m just super-stoked to be there.”

“She’s definitely the most experienced, but I don’t think it’s my hardest task,” the champion continued. “A fight is a fight. Let’s see what happens.”

Velasquez closed her media availability by mentioning Ilima-Lei Macfarlane and Alejandra Lara have been the toughest fighters that she has faced.

A textbook example of bulletin board material from the titleholder, but can she back up her comments with a win on Friday?

Liz Carmouche Reminded of Honor and Privilege to Fight With a Crowd of Distinguished Guests in Bellator 278 Main Event

In the other corner, Liz Carmouche has posted a record of 4-1 in her last five MMA fights and enters the Bellator 278 main event on a three-fight winning streak.

Last time out, she scored a first-round standing TKO in just 35 seconds due to punches against Kana Watanabe on June 25 of last year during Bellator 261‘s co-main event of the evening inside Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville.

Unlike her opponent, the challenger, a former member of the United States Marine Corps who served in the Iraq war and the war in Afghanistan, utilized her Wednesday afternoon media availability to acknowledge the audience who will be in attendance for the Bellator 278 main event, those whose job it is to protect America’s freedom, and what it means to her on a personal level.

“It’s super special. Most of my friends are either first responders, veterans, or active-duty military,” Carmouche began. “Everybody that’s coming out to come see it that I know: They’re all first responders, military, or veteran, so it means a lot to be able to give back to that community, to be able to put on a show for them with people that I care so much about because they’re also my friends, but also knowing how much it builds morale and makes such a difference in their lives to watch something like this, so it means the world to me. Thank you.”

It has become a Bellator tradition to hold annual cards in Hawaii, with these cards being joint ventures between the promotion and the USO as a means of honoring America’s service people, both past and present.

The remarks made by Liz Carmouche ahead of the Bellator 278 main event on Friday night serve as another reminder of the reality that those who serve America are fighting the most important fight of all.

Analysis, Film Study, and Prediction

Stylistically, the Bellator 278 main event on Friday night looks to favor Liz Carmouche, a black belt in 10th Planet Jiu-Jitsu and yellow belt in American Kempo, compared to Juliana Velasquez’s black belt in Judo.

Juliana Velasquez Can Punch Her Way to a Win

In looking at the video of Velasquez’s win against Kristina Williams, she can get her fists involved to try and get the victory.

During the second round of a scheduled three, Velasquez backed Williams up against the cage fence and repeatedly scored with a barrage of punches before the latter retreated, but it would ultimately prove to be to no avail.

From there, Velasquez scored with a few crisp punches, peppered with a leg kick to set up one final barrage of left-handed shots until the referee had seen enough to call off the fight.

If Velasquez’s left-handed punches are on the money this Friday night, the Bellator 278 main event will be done and dusted in a hurry.

Liz Carmouche Can Also Make Quick Work of Her Opponents

In the other corner, challenger Liz Carmouche has subscribed to the gospel of Lee Corso in recent times:

“Not so fast, my friend.”

During the opening round of her last fight against Kana Watanabe, Carmouche immediately went to work on her opponent, scoring with a right hand which gave her the opening she needed to seize control of the fight right away.

From there, Carmouche peppered Watanabe with an overhand right, wobbling her, quickly shutting it down by scoring with a barrage of punches, with Watanabe absorbing a fair amount of damage and the referee stepping in to put a halt to the bout inside its first minute of action.

If Liz Carmouche’s right hands are on the button, look out, because this one could be over before you sit down on the couch.

Final Thoughts

Not much more needs to be said about the Bellator 278 main event, other than what was already said about LFA 130’s main event:

Don’t make those sandwiches during the fight, because you might miss everything as a result.

Prediction: Liz Carmouche by First-Round Knockout.

Featured Image Credits to Lucas Noonan/BELLATOR MMA

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Drew Zuhosky has been writing about MMA since the spring of 2018. A graduate of Youngstown State University in Youngstown, OH, Drew enjoys a good game and an even better fight. When he's not writing, you can find him playing video games and listening to music.