It’s late April, which means Bellator MMA is about to travel to Hawaii for its annual trip to Neil S. Blaisdell Arena in Honolulu. As is customary for the promotion, it’ll be a doubleheader weekend of fights, beginning Friday night for Bellator 294 and the Bellator 294 main event.
Live coverage of Bellator 294 begins Friday at 8 pm ET/ 5 pm PT (3 pm Hawaii) with the undercard on YouTube, followed at 10 pm ET/ 7 pm PT (5 pm Hawaii) by the main card on Showtime. In total, Bellator 294 features a light slate of bouts with just nine.
Highlighting the night’s schedule is a rematch for the Bellator MMA Women’s Flyweight Championship in the headliner.
Carmouche vs. Bennett II Serves as Bellator 294 Main Event
Incumbent champion Liz Carmouche (18-7 MMA, 5-0 Bellator), who joined Scott Coker‘s roster after being cut by the UFC in 2019, meets No. 4 contender Deanna Bennett (13-7-1 MMA, 3-1 Bellator) in the Bellator 294 main event. As always, this championship fight serves as an advertised maximum of five rounds at five minutes per round to close the show.
These two fighters last met in September of 2020 during Bellator 246. That night, Carmouche secured a third-round submission (rear-naked choke) in a non-title fight.
Bellator 294 Main Event Fighter Comparison and Betting Odds
Heading into the Bellator 294 main event on Friday night, Liz Carmouche stands as the taller contender at 5-foot-6, compared to the 5-foot-4 frame of Deanna Bennett. Both of these fighters are level in height at 66 inches.
As of Monday afternoon, the oddsmakers have Liz Carmouche installed as a -375 favorite, while Deanna Bennett is a +285 underdog. If you plan on betting on this or any other fight happening over the weekend, please wager responsibly.
Liz Carmouche Looks to Continue Winning Streak
Champion Liz Carmouche has posted a perfect 5-0 record since joining Bellator in 2020. Last time out, she secured a second-round armbar submission in Bellator 289 right before Christmas on Dec. 9 against Juliana Velasquez (12-2 MMA, 7-2 Bellator).
Friday’s fight is a rematch of Carmouche’s Bellator MMA promotional debut. Recently, she talked to John Eric Poll about strategy adjustments now that she and Bennett are fighting for the second time.
“We always study our opponents to make sure that my weaknesses and my strengths don’t play into their strengths and being able to feed into it,” Carmouche began, “so it’s always a matter of ‘Okay, let’s keep these things in mind. Be cautious for this or look out for these cues and the things that they telegraph and tell us that they have, but ultimately, at this point in my career, it’s really about cultivating myself and being able to go out and make the best representation of what I have.”
Carmouche hasn’t lost inside the cage since joining Bellator over two and a half years ago. Now, the question is can she defend the championship that she claimed in Honolulu at this time last year in the Bellator 294 main event?
Deanna Bennett Looks to End Carmouche’s Reign
In the other corner, Deanna Bennett has gone 3-2 in her last five fight. At present, she’s on a three-fight winning streak. Back in August of last year, she defeated Justine Kish (8-6 MMA, 1-2 Bellator) in a catchweight bout.
The contest was slated to have been a flyweight prelim, however, Kish failed to make the 126-lb. nontitle flyweight maximum for the contest. Much like the Bellator 294 main event, that fight against Kish was also a rematch.
After the fight, she met with the media, where she called her shot for Liz Carmouche.
“For the love of everything, please let me fight somebody new in the next fight,” Bennett said. “I’m looking for the champ, I’m looking above, like ‘Please! Twice in a row, we’re good. We’re settled. Let’s go for a different one'”.
She’s already settled the score with Justine Kish. On Friday, Deanna Bennett gets her wish for another opponent, so can she even the score with Liz Carmouche?
Analysis, Film Study, and Prediction
Stylistically, the Bellator 294 main event looks to favor Liz Carmouche, a black belt in 10th Planet Jiu-Jitsu and a yellow belt in American Kenpo Karate, compared to Deanna Bennett’s brown belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.
Watch For Carmouche’s Ground Game
If Liz Carmouche is able to get Deanna Bennett on the ground, it could be game, set, and match in the Bellator 294 main event. Juliana Velasquez knows this firsthand from their bout last fall. Midway through the second round of a scheduled five, she executed a takedown, with Velasquez trying to wall walk in order to get back up to her feet.
Carmouche made certain to keep Velasquez down, softening her up with elbows. Although the fans booed the slow pace of the fight, the referee optioned to not stand the fighters up.
This enabled Carmouche to take full mount and eventually an S-mount, softening Velasquez up with ground and pound shots. At that point, she applied the torque to get Velasquez to tap out. Carmouche needs one takedown to win the Bellator 294 main event.
Bennett Also Proficient with Submissions
In the other corner, Deanna Bennett is also adept on the ground. Her 2019 Invicta Phoenix Series semifinal versus Daiana Torquato was proof of that.
During the first and only round (Phoenix Series quarterfinals and semifinals take place in single five-minute periods and do not count toward a fighter’s overall record), Torquato was the aggressor early on, but Bennett’s defense created the opportunity for a double-leg takedown.
Bennett took Torquato’s back and later sunk in a rear-naked choke to secure the win. If Deanna Bennett finds herself trailing statistically, look for her to try to score a double-leg takedown. This could be the opening she needs to become the new champ.
This is an entertaining fight on paper, but will it live up to the advanced hype? Tune in and find out.
Prediction: Liz Carmouche by Unanimous Decision.
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