Woman’s 135lb champion Marloes Coenen had to dig deep tonight at Strikeforce: Feijao Vs Henderson after Liz Carmouche took the fight to her in the opening rounds.

The first round was relatively even as the two tested each other on the feet. Things really heated up in the second though when Coenen pulled guard with a guillotine choke. It looked tight but Carmouche popped back out and then went to work from on top.

Showing good wrestling she shaked off a few submission attempts and was able to stack up Coenen and rain down blows before passing to side control, and eventually mounting the champion. Utilizing a high mount Carmouche was then able to throw a large volumes of strikes down on Coenen who could not shake her off and had to simply go into defense mode and weather the storm until the end of the round.

Growing in confidence Carmouche took the fight to Coenen in the third round, and after some clinch work against the fense again managed to take here down. Remarkably she again found herself in the mount against her vastly more experienced opponent, and went back to laying down a ground and pound assault to secure another dominant round in her favor.

Realizing she needed to change things up as they progressed to the championship rounds, Coenen took Carmouche down early in the fourth. Carmouche did a good job of shaking her off though, and as Coenen looked to get back down into her guard, she suddenly managed to launch herself at the champion and took her down against the cage.

All Carmouche’s hard work was about to come undone though as Coenen had a hold of her arm, and managed to work into an arm triangle. The challenger valiantly tried to fight it off, but it was to be in vain and she was forced to tap with 1.29mins of the fourth round gone.

This was an impressive display of composure from Coenen to survive some very bad spots in the fight and retain the presence of mind to seize the submission when the opportunity presented itself, much as Anderson Silva did to Chael Sonnen last year.

At the same time, the real story of this fight was Carmouche who’s record was just 5-0 going into this fight, and only had two weeks to prepare after stepping in as a late replacement for Miesha Tate.

She deserves a lot of credit for both her spirited display, and the level of technique she showed given her relative lack of experience.