Liz Carmouche pushed back on the narrative that she received preferential treatment from referee Mike Beltran during her championship bout against Julianna Velasquez at Bellator 278.
Carmouche defeated Velasquez via technical knockout (TKO) to become the new Bellator women's flyweight champion on April 22. However, the legitimacy of her victory was challenged by her opponent, who claimed the bout was prematurely stopped.
Watch the finishing sequence below:
A number of fans on social media added fuel to the fire by spreading rumors that Beltran helped Carmouche secure the title. As the conspiracy theory goes, Beltran was partial to Carmouche as they're both former members of the United States Marine Corps.
Carmouche pushed back on the allegations during an exclusive interview with James Lynch of Sportskeeda MMA:
"Everybody's saying there was a lot of controversy about how the fight was stopped," said Liz Carmouche. "Everybody that I talked to that's looked at it and re-looked at it says they can't possibly see the controversy. I know she was up in arms... Every interview tags me, letting me know that she doesn't think the fight [was fair]. There was bias because [Mike] Beltran is a former Marine."
According to the newly-minted champ, her being a former marine was – if anything – a disadvantage. The former UFC women's bantamweight title challenger added:
"If anything, it's the complete opposite. Marine to marine, we're way tougher on each other. So if anything it's, 'No, no. We're going to let her work. She has to work harder for it.' So I definitely don't see bias going on there."
Catch our exclusive interview with Liz Carmouche below:
Commission junks Julianna Velasquez's protest against Liz Carmouche
The Hawaii State Boxing Commission denied Julianna Velasquez's appeal to overturn her TKO loss.
Velasquez filed a complaint, believing she was unjustly officiated during the bout. However, the commission decided the result "shall not be reviewed, nor shall the decision made by the referee" because "the referees shall stop the contest when, in the referee's judgment, either of the contestants shows a marked superiority or is apparently outclassed." (Per MMA Fighting)
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Fortunately, Liz Carmouche will get the opportunity to set the record straight. She will defend her belt against Velasquez in a rematch later this year. The title bout will take place in the co-main event of Bellator 289 on December 9 at the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Connecticut.