It took more than just luck for Lauren Murphy to become a UFC star. The third-ranked women’s flyweight contender is on her way to a UFC title shot against current champion Valentina Shevchenko on September 25 at UFC 266. But just a few years ago, it didn’t appear Murphy would ever fight for gold.
Murphy moved to Houston after falling to 2-4 in her first six UFC fights, and she’s gone undefeated in five fights since.
Nicknamed “Lucky” due to her Irish heritage, Murphy will be a big underdog on the betting market against Shevchenko in the co-main event of UFC 266.
UFC 266 takes place September 25 at 10 p.m. Eastern time at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. It will air as a pay-per-view on ESPN+.
But Murphy has already climbed way higher on the ladder at 125 pounds than most people expected she would after she struggled in her early UFC fights.
Now, the tough contender plans to put a stamp on that amazing run through the ranks by capturing gold against Shevchenko at UFC 266.
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‘Will You Still Love Me?’
The first time I met Murphy was when the fighter was training for her second fight after she moved from Arizona to Texas. Previously, Murphy had trained at The MMA Lab in Glendale, but she made the move to Houston in hopes of sparking future glory.
At home in her new gym, Murphy was getting ready to face Angela “KGB” Lee at UFC 247 in February 2020. She was working that day with her new striking coach Bob Perez at Main Street Boxing & Muay Thai gym in downtown Houston.
While I was technically there that day to visit Perez and hometown heavyweight prodigy Derrick Lewis for Bleacher Report, the most memorable part of the trip ended up being a story related to me by Perez about Murphy.
Before her previous outing with Perez (her first with her new Houston-based team of trainers), Murphy pulled Perez aside before she was set to make her walk to the cage on fight night.
“Hey Bob, if I lose, will you still love me?”
It’s a question most people might not even dare to ask a coach, even if they really want to know the answer.
“Of course I will, Lauren. No matter what,” Perez assured her.
Murphy went on to defeat her opponent (Mara Romero Borella) that night by third-round knockout.
She’s never really looked back, and now she’s on an incredible run.
Since that important talk with her coach, Murphy has won five straight fights.
A sixth would make her UFC women’s flyweight champion.
So Murhpy needed more than just a little luck to get to the fight of her dreams against Shevchenko at UFC 266.
Murphy needed to know her team had her back no matter what.
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Murphy Never Planned Professional Fighting Career
Murphy never really set out to be an MMA fighter.
Instead, the Alaska-born UFC star found her way into cage fights the old-fashioned way. She was just looking for something to do.
“If I ever write a book, it will be about me just sort of bumbling my way into a professional fighting career,” Murphy told Heavy last year.
Murphy said she started learning jiu-jitsu just so she could have something to do at night. She wanted to stay warm and out of trouble in the frigidly cold darkness of Alaska. But after she fell in love with jiu-jitsu, she had another wild idea.
She decided she wanted to try cage fighting just to say she had done it.
But a funny thing happened on her way back from the cage that night. Murphy unexpectedly found herself to be the winner.
So she ended up doing what any reasonable person might do. She decided to keep on fighting until she lost a fight.
Soon, Murphy rose to the top of the Alaska Fighting Championships world, and that meant she suddenly had a new career as a legit professional prizefighter.
Murphy went on to become Invicta FC’s bantamweight champion, and she eventually punched her way to the UFC.
Things weren’t quite so much like a storybook after that. But after struggling to a 2-4 record, Murphy moved down to Houston to write a new chapter with Perez helping to hone her striking game and her husband Joe Murphy cleverly crafting her ground game.
Murphy’s head coach is Alex Cisne, someone she says helps her put everything together into one package for fight night.
Now, Murphy is heading into the biggest fight of her life, and she seems to have the perfect team around her.
UFC 266: Volkanovski vs. Ortega on Sept. 25
Murphy’s daring attempt at grabbing the UFC women’s flyweight championship away from Shevchenko isn’t nearly the only big fight on the card.
The main event of UFC 266 features the stirring featherweight showdown between UFC featherweight champion Alex Volkanovski and Brian Ortega.
You can see all the main card fights scheduled for UFC 266 on September 25 in the list below.
Main Card (PPV)*
Alexander Volkanovski (c) vs. Brian Ortega, UFC featherweight championship
Valentina Shevchenko (c) vs. Lauren Murphy, UFC women’s flyweight championship
Robbie Lawler vs. Nick Diaz, middleweights
Curtis Blaydes vs. Jairzinho Rozenstruik, heavyweights
Jessica Andrade vs. Cynthia Calvillo, women’s flyweights
The rest of the fights follow.
Prelims and Early Prelims (ESPN+, UFC Fight Pass)*
Marlon Moraes vs. Merab Dvalishvili, bantamweights
Dan Hooker vs. Nasrat Haqparast, lightweights
Shamil Abdurakhimov vs. Chris Daukaus, heavyweights
Roxanne Modafferi vs. Taila Santos, women’s flyweights
Ricky Simon vs. Timur Valiev, bantamweights
Uros Medic vs. Jalin Turner, lightweights
Manon Fiorot vs. Mayra Bueno Silva, women’s flyweights
Karl Roberson vs. Nick Maximov, middleweight
Matthew Semelsberger vs. Martin Sano, welterweight
*card subject to change
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