After picking up her fifth consecutive win, there’s no denying Lauren Murphy is next in line to challenge UFC flyweight champion, Valentina Shevchenko, for the belt. After defeating Joanne Calderwood at UFC 263, Murphy has without a doubt solidified herself as the top contender to Shevchenko, who has yet to be truly challenged since becoming the 125-pound women’s champion.
In fact, Murphy has only suffered one loss in the flyweight, a unanimous decision loss to Sijara Eubanks back in 2018, and has been undefeated ever since. Picking up wins over Mara Borella, Andrea Lee, Roxanne Modafferi, Liliya Shakirova, and now Calderwood, Murphy has welcomed each and every challenge, although some thought she could’ve waited on the sidelines for her title shot, she chose not to.
During an interview with the On The Mic podcast, Murphy discussed her most recent victory, why she feels she’s a different challenge than previous fighters for Shevchenko, and why she’s decided to stay busy instead of waiting for a title shot.
Following her win over Calderwood, Lauren Murphy didn’t call out the champion in her post-fight Octagon interview, but she says she felt good following the victory and she knows she’s earned a title shot.
“I feel great, I thought it was a really good fight. I was happy that it was really exciting, I’m glad that there was some back-and-forth action, it’s always good to show some heart in your fights. Glad we came out with the win. I think I was just so in the moment, we didn’t really plan a post-fight speech so I just said what was in my head at the time. We just focused so much on that fight with JoJo, I didn’t have anything planned to call out the champion. I don’t feel like I need to sit on the mic and say obnoxious shit after a fight, I think I’ve earned a title fight, for sure. I’ve for sure earned it.”
Always welcoming the next opponent and a tough fight, Lauren Murphy did say there was a brief moment where she wondered if it was worth risking the potential title fight and take the Calderwood fight instead.
“Of course I wondered if I made the right choice, I hope this is the right thing to do. At the end of the day it is. Scared money don’t make money. Sitting out and waiting around in the UFC is usually not the right answer, so I figured sooner or later I’d have to fight somebody not on short-notice. My last win was over a short-notice opponent, so I knew I’d have to fight somebody tough to really justify a title shot.”
With a looming title shot in her future and a five-fight winning streak to her credit, Murphy says there are still levels to her game that she feels she can add, and she believes she has not even hit her peak yet, which could be trouble for her future opponents.
“I feel like the best, it hasn’t happened yet. I don’t even think we’re peaking yet, to be honest with you. I guess I don’t really think about it like that. It just doesn’t feel any different than any other point in my career when I’ve had other big fights. That’s the beauty of mixed martial arts, how complex the sport is. Physically, mentally, technically for sure, I don’t think we’re anywhere near the peak technically. Physically I think I have another three good years in me at the highest level and really my mental game is getting sharper, too. I don’t think we’ve hit the best Lauren Murphy yet, not yet.”
As for what should be next, a title fight against Shevchenko, Murphy believes in comparison to previous title challengers for the champion, she’s a much different, and complete, fighter compared to the rest who have attempted to dethrone the champion.
“I think I bring something different to the table and that I’m a more complete fighter, and I’m going to have a more dangerous game plan ready for her”@LaurenMurphyMMA told me what she believes separates her from previous title challengers vs Valentina Shevchenko @MyMMANews pic.twitter.com/DUoWEwS6Hj
— Mike Pendleton (@MP2310) June 17, 2021
“I think there’s a lot of areas that I pose a threat to her that none of the other girls have been able to impose on her. My grappling for sure. My top game and grappling, it’s on another level, it’s different than all these girls that are in the division. If I get on top of you, you’re in for a long night. I’m glad I got to show that in the fight with JoJo [Calderwood], if we did one more round of that, we would’ve finished her for sure. I think I’m big for the division, I’m super strong for the division, I’m really really durable. These are things that these other girls at 125 haven’t been able to present to her, a lot of them have gone out there and tried to kickbox with her.
I don’t know, Valentina has hundreds of kickboxing matches, I think that if you think you’re going to go out there and out kickbox Valentina, I don’t understand why anybody would go in there with that plan. I think something different to the table in that I’m a more complete fighter, and I’m going to have a more dangerous game plan ready for her.”
When it comes to a potential timeframe, Murphy would say she’s hoping that a title fight could be made in October or November, as one of her coaches Bob Perez will be working with Derrick Lewis for his upcoming title fight against Francis Ngannou, and she wouldn’t want her coaches trying to split their time and attention between the two.
No matter when the fight happens, it’s clear that this is Lauren Murphy’s time and although she might be known as “Lucky” as her fighter nickname, there has been no luck involved as she’s fought everyone in front of her and earned a well-deserved title shot opportunity.
Mike Pendleton is a current contributor to MyMMANews, BJPenn.com, and TheScrap.Co while also hosting his “On The Mic” podcast and works as an Associate Producer on Sirius XM’s Fight Nation channel.
With a special passion for interviewing and talking to some of the very best around the fight game, you can read or listen to Mike’s work across his multiple outlets.
Follow me on Twitter: @MP2310