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USA Today Sports Media Group
USA Today Sports Media Group
MMA Junkie Staff

MMA Junkie’s Submission of the Month for April: Liz Carmouche saves title reign

With another action-packed month of MMA in the books, MMA Junkie looks at the best submissions from April 2023: Here are the five nominees, listed in chronological order, and winner of MMA Junkie’s Submission of the Month award for April.

At the bottom of the post, let us know if we got it right by voting for your choice.


Nominee: Marthin Hamlet def. Mohammad Fakhreddine at 2023 PFL 1

Marthin Hamlet (11-4) beat Mohammad Fakhreddine (15-5) with a first-round submission to pick up six points in the light heavyweight standings to open his 2023 PFL season.

It took Hamlet a mere 65 seconds to get ahold of Fakhreddine and secure a face crack for the stoppage. As a result, Hamlet has back-to-back wins for the first time in two years.

Nominee: Gillian Robertson def. Piera Rodriguez at UFC on ESPN 44

Piera Rodriguez (9-1 MMA, 2-1 UFC) claims she didn’t tap out against Gillian Robertson (12-7 MMA, 9-5 UFC) to end their bout.

In what should’ve been a glorious moment for Robertson, who locked up an armbar in the second round of her strawweight debut to add to her record for most submission wins by any female in UFC history, the visible disconnect between Rodriguez and referee Keith Peterson seemed to potentially take away from the finish a tad.

Nominee: Cris Lencioni def. Blake Smith via at Bellator 294

Cris Lencioni (11-3 MMA, 6-2 BMMA) was a heavy favorite when he entered his featherweight bout with Blake Smith (7-4 MMA, 0-1 BMMA) and he showed why with a grappling showcase that ended in highlight reel fashion.

After a successful Round 1 on the canvas, Lencioni dragged it back down in Round 2. He first worked a kimura from half guard and moved to mount. As Smith shifted, Lencioni grabbed hold of the back. From the back, Lencioni choked up high and wrapped his legs around Smith’s head. After some short punches and a torque of the arm, Lencioni readjusted his legs and got the tap.

Nominee: Liz Carmouche def. DeAnna Bennett at Bellator 294

Liz Carmouche (19-7 MMA, 6-0 BMMA) saved her reign as Bellator women’s flyweight champion when she rallied to submit DeAnna Bennett (13-8-1 MMA, 3-2 BMMA) and defended gold in their rematch.

After Bennett missed weight and missed her chance to fight for the belt, she came out with a desperate performance in the cage by controlling Carmouche. The champ answers, though, and eventually worked her way into an arm-triangle choke in the fourth round after being down 3-0 on the scorecards.

Nominee: Nicolas Leblond def. Ryan Curtis at Cage Warriors 153

Nicolas Leblond (8-4) pulled off one of the rarer submissions in MMA against Ryan Curtis (5-4) in their flyweight bout – and he did it in a violent manner.

Leblond choked Curtis out cold in the first round with the first bulldog choke finish in the history of the Cage Warriors organization.

The winner

The winner: Liz Carmouche

Due to a weight miss by Bennett at official weigh-ins, the women’s flyweight contest was a one-way title bout, meaning a new champion could not be crowned. However, Carmouche elected to still put her title on the line. If Carmouche won, she retained her title; if Bennett won, the belt would be vacated.

Early, Carmouche served as her own worst enemy when an errant spinning wheel kick backfired. Carmouche spun off-balance as Bennett grabbed hold and landed on top on the ground.

In Round 2, Carmouche found success with her striking combinations, set up nicely by low calf kicks. Bennett took the fight to the canvas but Carmouche returned back up.

Round 3 was similar. Carmouche landed some good strikes before Bennett tied up her up against the fence and took the fight down. Bennett controlled Carmouche on the mat for the remainder of the round.

In Round 4, Carmouche spent the early stages defending a takedown from Bennett. A front choke neutralized Bennett’s attempt. Carmouche eventually worked her way into top control where she slowly worked her way to an arm-triangle submission. Bennett’s legs flailed with the tap.

Bellator 294 wasn’t the first time Carmouche and Bennett competed against one another. They made their simultaneous Bellator debuts in September 2020 when Carmouche defeated Bennett by third-round submission. Bennett also missed weight for that bout.

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