Murphy cool, calm, collected before UFC debut

August 14, 2014

Lauren Murphy Mixed Martial ArtsShe’s on the eve of the biggest fight of her life and Lauren Murphy of Eagle River is bullet proof.

Nothing can rattle her, not even a delayed flight.

Despite a snafu with her airline that pushed back her arrival to Maine from Tuesday to Wednesday, Murphy rolled with it like she was on vacation.

But Saturday will be no day at the beach.

Murphy will make her debut in the mighty UFC, the world’s biggest and baddest mixed martial arts league in the world, when she takes on former Olympic wrestling silver medalist Sara McMann in a bantamweight bout on the UFC Fight Night 47 card.

The 30-year-old Alaskan arrived in Maine with a smile on her face, despite being a day late.

“At this point I think most fighters kind of accept that nothing is really normal. No stress is good, but if it does come up it has never affected me in a fight,” Murphy told me. “It’s something you take one second at a time. The thing I think people worry about is the actual fight night under the big, bright lights and there are cameras in your face, and I think that can be a little overwhelming, but it’s something that’s never bothered me up to this point.”

Murphy has an 8-0 record as a professional MMA fighter, and she has made five women retire, meaning she beat them so bad they walked away from the sport.

Now she’s in the major leagues of mixed martial arts.

“I wonder a lot how I got here,” she said. “When I think of it like that, it’s like, you’ve come a long way baby.”

Murphy will take on a veteran fighter in McMann, who has a 7-1 record, 1-1 in the UFC. McMann’s last fight came in a loss to UFC bantamweight champ Ronda Rousey.

A UFC win would do wonders for Murphy’s budding career, but she won’t enter the cage hating McMann. Red rage isn’t part of her strategy.

“People think irrationally when you’re in that state of mind. There is no way to stay calm. You have to think about what you’re doing,” Murphy said. “There are certain escapes you’re going to use for certain moves and different finishes and punching combinations and you have to be using your brain to set those up. It depends on what your opponent is doing and then how best to exploit their weaknesses. You have to be able to do that in the heat of the moment, so the best way to do that is to stay calm, control your breathing and remember what you’re fighting for.”

She’s fighting for herself, for her family and for Alaska.

“I want everybody in Alaska to know that I really just want to make them proud and I’m going to fight my hardest on Saturday and leave it all in the cage,” Murphy said. “I hope I’ve done right by my home state.”