How Life Led Lauren Murphy into Becoming a UFC Fighter

UFC's Lauren Murphy

Kelsey McCarson UFC's Lauren Murphy

Lauren Murphy never intended to become a UFC fighter. Murphy, 36, from Anchorage, Alaska, told Heavy that everything just sort of worked out for the fighter without her really thinking about it.

“If I ever write a book, it will be about me just sort of bumbling my way into a professional fighting career,” Murphy said.

That isn’t to say Murphy skipped out on working extremely long hours to become the fighter she is today. Of course, all that had to happen. How else would Murphy be where she is today?

But 10 years ago Murphy never really envisioned herself being ranked No. 7 in the UFC’s women’s flyweight division in 2020. Murphy faces No. 8-ranked contender Andrea Lee during the UFC 247 prelims on ESPN Saturday night at the Toyota Center in Houston.

It’s a fight she’s looking forward to because of the well-rounded game both fighters seem to possess entering the contest.

“The fight could go anywhere, and that’s really exciting to me,” Murphy said.

But that it’s happening at all is sort of a miracle.

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Murphy’s Professional Fighting Career a Happy Accident

That Murphy is even one of the top women’s flyweight contenders in the largest and best MMA promotional company in the world was sort of just a happy accident. In fact, her fighting career is a case study in a person being open to whatever life brings her way.

Because when Murphy started her training over ten years ago, she lived in Alaska and was only looking for a way to stay busy somewhere inside during the blistering cold. Once she got her feet wet in combat sports, her biggest dream was that she might one day enter a local jiu-jitsu tournament.

“That’s the biggest thing I could dream of,” Murphy remembered.

But soon, Murphy had another wild idea. Maybe she could participate in one MMA fight and have something seriously awesome to tell her grandkids about someday. She knew she was tough, and she pondered how she only had this one life to do crazy things like fighting someone in a cage. Why not give it a go?

“My friends were like: What? You want to get inside a cage and fight?” Murphy said.

She did. And Murphy got into that cage and won the fight.

Soon after the experience, she wondered if maybe she could win another fight. She did that, too.

Called Out By Champion After Second Pro Fight

That’s when fate intervened.

The champion of that local MMA promotion (Alaska Fighting Championships) called out Murphy for a fight after Murphy’s second professional win. Murphy said she agreed to it, but only to save face.

“I was terrified,” Murphy said. “I never would have done that had she not called me out.”

But Murphy won that fight, too, and she went on to win more fights, still never really dreaming of becoming a UFC fighter.

“I never dreamed about going to the UFC or anything,” Murphy said. “Women weren’t even allowed in the UFC back then.”

Murphy’s Fighting Career Still Unfolding

Fast forward to today, and Murphy enters UFC 247 with a new lease on life.

After some setbacks in her career had left her wondering what direction she should go next, Murphy ran into trainer Bob Perez, who she knew from cornering against her back during her Legacy fighting days.

“He was just so kind,” Murphy said. “We hit it off right away.”

Murphy is 1-0 after linking up with Perez, one of Houston’s best known and most respected figures in fight sports. Perez also trains heavyweight contender Derrick Lewis at Houston Main Street Boxing and Muay Thai gym. Perez co-owns the gym with former heavyweight boxing contender Lou Savarese and longtime boxing fixture Bobby Benton.

Adding Perez to a team that also includes Murphy’s “secret weapon” Alex Cisne alongside Joe Murphy (who is also her husband), Murphy said she’s right back to living life the way she was when she first starting coming up in the sport, the moment-by-moment kind of living that amazingly led her to find a career she never saw coming.

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I can’t say enough about these guys right here. Many people have asked about my new camp. Here is the core of it. Y’all know Joe, my husband, grappling coach, best friend, and better half. In the middle there is Alex Cisne, MMA’s best kept secret. He has five black belts, a genius mind for game planning, and a perfect temperament for coaching. Many of you know the guy at the end, Bob Perez. He’s an amazing Muay Thai and boxing coach, absolutely hilarious, and has built many, many fighters into absolute monsters. These guys are like family to me (Joe is literally family to me ?). And even though they didn’t know each other hardly at all before my last camp, they all came together to help me. It’s not often I’ve seen coaches put ego aside in the presence of another coach, but these guys do. When one talks, the others listen. One makes a suggestion and the others respect it. They often ask each other’s opinion, not out of politeness, but because they genuinely value each other. None of us know everything, so we all have room to grow by listening. There’s a lot of respect and kindness in this group. I’m happy to spend the prime of my career with such great people. This picture is them, watching me spar last Sunday. It was a really great day. Win or lose, I’ve never felt more prepared or confident than I do now. I’m going to give my all for these guys. It’s been an amazing camp thanks to them and their selflessness. I’m happy to walk shoulder to shoulder with them into fight week, into war, and into a mexican restaurant afterward to celebrate one of the best performances of my life.

A post shared by Lauren Murphy (@laurenmurphymma) on

And Murphy feels whole again. She’s happy, healthy and free. Most of all, the fighter said she was grateful for her amazing MMA journey and equally excited about this one particular point in her life right now.

“It’s like a one-in-a-million thing,” Murphy said. “How foolish would I be to not enjoy this?”

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