Murphy wins fifth straight UFC fight, sets up potential title shot
Eagle River’s Lauren Murphy used a dominating second-round performance to carry her to a split decision over Scotland’s Joanne Calderwood at UFC 263 in Phoenix, Arizona.
The 37-year-old Alaskan picked up her fifth straight victory in the women’s flyweight division, moving to 15-4 for her pro career and 7-4 in the UFC, the world’s premier MMA league.
Up next for Murphy could get a much-deserved title shot against flyweight champion Valentina Shevchenko.
Murphy’s seven career UFC wins ranks No. 1 for Alaskans, breaking a tie with six-time winner Jared Cannonier of Anchorage. Murphy is tied with Cannier with 11 UFC appearances, the most by an Alaskan.
Murphy edged Calderwood 29-28, 28-29, 29-28 in a fight that was as close as it gets.
“That’s what I do. I find ways to win these fights,” Murphy said in a post-fight interview on ESPN. “I’m going to keep finding ways to win these fights and I want these tough tests.”
Murphy, of Chugiak High fame, was the stronger fighter and used her reach advantage and superior boxing skills to control the first round. She opened up with a beautiful 1-2 combo and later used her jab and right hand to win the round.
“She’s such a bulldog,” UFC commentator Joe Rogan said during the broadcast. “She really does bully girls around the octagon.”
Murphy really took control of the fight thanks to a sensational second round that probably earned her a 10-8 score from at least one of the judges.
She executed a takedown early in the round and pinned Calderwood against the fence for four minutes, landing punches to the face and elbow shots to the body.
“I knew she was going to be really tough, but I knew that if I could get the takedown, I could be very dominant and I also knew this would be a very tough test for me.”
The 35-year-old Calderwood (15-6) won the third round and bloodied Murphy’s right eye.
Calderwood came into this matchup between top flyweight title contenders as a slight favorite, but Murphy found a way.
“I want to come in here and be tested against the toughest, best girls in the world,” Murphy said.
“Of course, I was looking for the finish tonight. Unfortunately, I didn’t get it, but I’m going to take a victory any way that I can. That’s what makes me one of the best fighters in the world.”