In a year that already has proved to be massive for the UFC, with one major card after another, UFC 205 on Nov. 12 at Madison Square Garden in New York looks to be the biggest and most important of them all. In honor of such a marquee event, ESPN.com is providing dedicated previews to all 13 bouts on the card, breaking down what's at stake and projecting who will win, along with quotes and statistics for each fighter.
Women's bantamweights: Liz Carmouche (10-5) vs. Katlyn Chookagian (8-0)
Odds as of Nov. 2: Carmouche +165; Chookagian -190
What's at stake?
Carmouche ready to end unwanted layoff
After her last fight in April 2015, Carmouche asked the UFC for a short break to get some personal affairs in order. The problem was, once she was ready to start up again, the promotion evidently wasn't on the same page.
"Feels like I've been asking to fight for a full year now," Carmouche said. "I honestly don't know what happened. I thought maybe I'd made someone mad and got blacklisted. The only thing I can imagine is discussions for the purchase of the UFC put things on hold -- but if booking me to a huge card in New York was their way of saying, 'Sorry this took so long,' I'll take it."
Carmouche, 32, did participate in an Eddie Bravo Invitational grappling match in September, which was broadcast on UFC Fight Pass. Even with the time off, Carmouche wouldn't be far away from title contention if she were to get past the undefeated Chookagian.
"I believe I built momentum competing in jiu-jitsu, showcasing all the skill sets I have," Carmouche said. "Winning this fight just progresses that momentum and gets me back in title contention."
Chookagian: "I think I represent the newer generation"
When UFC 205 was first announced, the 27-year-old Chookagian immediately pulled up the UFC's female roster and liked what she saw.
The promotion is not flush with female talent based out of New York. Chookagian, a Philadelphia native who now fights out of New Jersey, figured she had a shot to make the card.
"I'm pretty lucky to be on this card, considering this is only my second UFC fight," Chookagian said. "But I also had a feeling I'd be on the card. I'm pretty much the only girl signed in either division who is from the East Coast, New York area. I was holding on to that, thinking maybe it would get me on here."
In addition to her locale, Chookagian is also one of the better prospects in female MMA. She started taekwondo when she was 4, and got into karate a few years later. By the time she was 15, she had already won an amateur Golden Gloves boxing tournament. She trains her striking under standup coach Mark Henry, who will be in the corners of Eddie Alvarez and Frankie Edgar on Nov. 12.
"Currently, I think the women's side of the sport is where the men were a few years ago," Chookagian said. "I feel like most of the women are only dominant in one area of MMA. That's why you've seen, in the bantamweight division, there has been a different champion every fight lately. A lot of that has to do with matchups.
"I think I represent the newer generation. I have equal experience in different areas of fighting."
Carmouche: 10-5 record (2-3 in UFC); past three fights have gone to decision (1-2 record)
Carmouche: 11 takedowns landed in past four fights
Chookagian: 8-0 record (1-0 in UFC); five of eight wins by decision
Chookagian: Defended three of four takedowns in UFC debut (UD3 over Lauren Murphy)
This bout sets up as a potential passing of the torch for contender status within the division -- unless it's just too early for Chookagian.
Carmouche will battle a size disadvantage, which could make things especially difficult as grappling is her clearest path to victory. Chookagian is a mobile, high-paced striker with a jab that is pretty efficient at maintaining the distance she wants.
What Carmouche lacks in size at this weight, she makes up for in strength. Chookagian also doesn't carry a lot of knockout power, which means there's a solid chance Carmouche will get a full 15 minutes to work her takedowns. If you look over Carmouche's record, her toughest foes mostly have been bigger grapplers. Chookagian is definitely bigger, but her grappling is less proven.
PREDICTION: Chookagian by decision.