Invicta champ from Eagle River still waiting for UFC invitation

January 1, 2014

Lauren Murphy Mixed Martial ArtsUndefeated mixed-martial arts fighter Lauren Murphy of Eagle River is used to winning. She is 8-0 as a pro and holds the bantamweight title for Invicta FC.

But one fight she can’t win is her burning desire to test the waters in the UFC against the world’s baddest brawlers.

Unfortunately, however, that invitation has not arrived for the 5-foot-8, 135-pound former nursing student. It might be coming soon, though, because Murphy is currently the highest ranked fighter in her division not in the UFC.

“I know I could shake things up in the UFC, but the UFC hasn’t invited me to that party yet and I don’t know why,” she told me. “It’s frustrating to know I could be a part of that, a big part of that. I don’t know if I could beat Ronda [Rousey], but I do know there are a lot of UFC girls in that division I could beat and there are a lot of girls where if I can’t beat them it would be a bad-ass fight.”

Murphy, of Chugiak High fame, became a world champion for the first time last month when she won her title match by TKO in the fourth round over Muay Thai specialist Miriam Nakamoto.

The 30-year-old Alaskan’s rise to the top has been as swift as her right hook, starting in 2010 with a 17-second knockout in her MMA debut at AFC Mat-Su Showdown 2 and continuing through today with a world ranking and Invicta title belt.

Invicta is a relatively new fighting promotion created for women in 2012. She is 3-0 since joining.

“I fight for Invicta and I’m really happy with that promotion. It’s important for me to stay loyal to them,” Murphy said. “But the fact is the best girls in the world are in the UFC right now and if I want to be the best I have to fight the best.

“Honestly when I watch the females in the UFC I get pretty upset because I’ve watched a lot of fighters and I’m better than them. It’s frustrating because these girls are getting these huge payouts and I’m over here basically fighting for peanuts.”

Part of the problem might be a lack of experience. Murphy could be viewed as somewhat unproven because she hasn’t beaten a steady string of UFC-caliber opponents. To be fair, though, she can’t gauge herself against top-notch fighters unless given the opportunity to fight them.

Another problem might be exposure. She has been the bantamweight champion for only three weeks and doesn’t have major sponsors. She doesn’t even have a business manager other than her husband [Joe Murphy, a member of the U.S. Air Force].

“I think having a good manager is really important,” she said. “You probably need to make it known you are the best of the best. It helps if you have something marketable. I have to have an image. I’ve never had to deal with that before.”

Meanwhile, Murphy will keep winning and waiting.

“If I keep beating girls and rack up a good record, the UFC can’t ignore me forever,” she said.