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Lauren Murphy on MMA fighting, family and upcoming UFC debut

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Lauren Murphy Invicta FC Bantamweight Champ Credit: Dave Mandel, SHERDOG.COM

Lauren Murphy Invicta FC Bantamweight Champ Credit: Dave Mandel, SHERDOG.COM

By Amber Boone (@thruthetrees11)

There are a few questions that have been debated through the ages, but we still have no concrete answer. Among them, if a tree falls and there is no one around to hear it, does it make a sound? If a man is speaking and there is no one around to hear him, is he still wrong? And my personal favorite: why are yawns contagious?

At UFC  Fight Night 47 this Saturday Aug. 16 on Fox Sports 1, we will have the privilege of watching one of these questions put to a practical test. That question is: What happens when an unstoppable force meets an immovable object?

In this case, Sara McMann is our immovable object. An Olympic wrestler with amazing take-downs and take-down defense; she’s got power and explosive strength. It’s been hard for all of her opponents (except Ronda Rousey) to determine when the fight goes to the ground or if it stays standing. In fact, McMann’s only loss is her recent defeat to the pound for pound and UFC champ, Ronda Rousey. McMann has dominated everyone else she’s ever fought including respected vets Tonya Evinger and Shayna Baszler.

SEE ALSO: VIDEO: Inside look at the training camp of UFC fighter Sara McMann

Invicta FC Bantamweight champion Lauren Murphy has proven to be an unstoppable force. Most fighters begin their careers with three to five amateur fights. Murphy made her MMA debut in a professional fight in Alaska and has defied the odds and beaten every opponent since. Climbing through the ranks of the bantamweight division, Murphy has been the perpetual underdog. And even though she is the Invicta FC champ, she is yet again considered the underdog in her next fight against McMann.

Murphy successfully challenged the “Queen of Mean” Miriam Nakamoto for the inaugural Invicta FC Bantamweight belt but not without controversy. By most scorecards, Nakamoto won the first two rounds but in the third suffered an ACL injury and in the opening seconds of the fourth round, the referee called the fight. Murphy won since Nakamoto was unable to continue. Immediately following the fight it appeared that both camps accepted the decision and while no one wants to win or lose due to an injury that they could both accept it with dignity and grace.

Lauren  Murphy (red glove tape) vs. Miriam  Nakamoto

Lauren Murphy (red glove tape) vs. Miriam Nakamoto Credit: Dave Mandel, SHERDOG.COM

That was short-lived, however. In a conversation with WSN, Murphy opened up about the controversy,  “The truth is, Miriam is a great athlete, but she and her coach were disrespectful before, during, and after the fight. They’ve been saying things since the fight, and I got to the point where I got sick of it and got tired of keeping my mouth shut. I tried to let it go and maybe I should have held my tongue- but I did one interview a few months after the fight and said one thing, and they got offended. ”

“After the fight and before the fight, the things they said that were nice were BS. They were really nice in the press but when we were at the fight, I don’t know, he is just a picker. He picks at opponents with little jabs in the hallway at the hotel, at the weigh-ins- all the time he would make little comments. Right before the fight even, when we were waiting in the wings, you’re there with your camp and your opponent. In interviews before I said I like getting punched in fight and was looking forward to testing my stand-up against her, so her (Miriam’s) music starts playing. She walked out first, and her music starts playing and he turns around and says, “Are you sure you’re not just going to grapple the whole time?” and they all just laughed.”

“I don’t know what they were thinking they were doing,” explained Murphy, “but that got me pumped at that point. I decided then that no matter what, no matter what she threw at me, that I was not going to stop coming forward, and there was no way I would ever tap to her. She put me in that mood, and she definitely won the first two rounds and it was shitty that she got hurt. But for them to say that her injury shouldn’t have counted as a loss because it didn’t come from a move like a heel hook or submission attempt is just bull. Truth is, I stood up with her for two rounds, and she didn’t break me and if she doesn’t get injured who know how it ends.”

“Perhaps I should have taken the high road and kept my mouth shut, and if I could go back I might keep my mouth shut during that interview but I didn’t enjoy being singled out. Now, I have other things to focus on, and I just blocked them on social media and put my blinders on. I don’t need to get sucked into that,” Murphy shook her head. “I don’t even know if she is still with Invicta or not but now that I am in the UFC, and I need to focus on what’s ahead.”

The Murphy family moves on…

After the fight with Nakamoto, Murphy’s husband was discharged from years of service in the Air Force and the Murphy family finally had the freedom to pick where to train. Murphy’s husband, Joe, had been stationed in Panama City, Florida, and Murphy was making the I-10 drive to Houston to train at Gracie Barra Katy. They were both ready to ditch the Sunshine State and considered moving to lots of places with amazing fight teams.

“There were five or six camps across the US that were strong possibilities. We knew we didn’t want to be in Florida or New York – even though (Matt) Serra’s camp is doing awesome things. We looked at Team Alpha Male and Jackson’s. For Joe, he wanted some place that offered Gi training; he is a brown belt and really loves competing in the Gi. We wanted some place that has a good family atmosphere, and it’s important to me to have a good strong leader for a coach. There are some camps that feel more like every man for himself, but I like a coach that has a plan.”

Luckily for the Murphys, Lauren’s manager sends a lot of fighters to the MMA Lab in Arizona. “I came out for a little bit and LOVED it, “Murphy gushed. “Everyone on the team is friendly and caring, for all of them being these bad-ass fighters. It’s nothing for Benson (Henderson) or Efrain (Escudero) to take time out of their days to work with me to help me get a move- even while they are busy training for their own fights. And I was new- not even one of the family yet.”

“And the Jones-Lybargers are amazing, “Murphy continued, singing praise for her new teammates. “We have the same manager. I never met them before. He set it up so that I showed up on their door step to basically introduce myself and live with them for three months. I spent three months living in their daughter’s room, and Jana met me at the door and said “I only have one rule – make yourself at home.” And Jocelyn is such a hard-worker. She is two weight classes below me and whoops my ass every day. I can’t wait to see her UFC debut. She is that good- I am so glad I don’t ever have to fight her in the cage.”

It’s important to point out that Murphy has only been training MMA for just about four and a half years. She started training in Alaska and took her first pro fight just months after. She has fought some of the biggest names in the bantamweight division including well-known Invicta fighter Kaitlyn Young and the seasoned vet, Sarah D’Alelio. Her next challenge will be her biggest, and she feels ready.

“I am so excited. When I found out who my first UFC opponent was going to be I thought “what a cool opponent.” To me, this is how you find out what you’re made of and what you can do. To be the best you’ve got to fight the best and be tested- 100%. The only way to do that is to keep climbing and to keep being challenged. That’s why I’ve been successful so far. I know I’ve got to work hard.”

“There really isn’t a game plan coming into the fight,” Murphy explained. “Everything has been an adjustment. My first day in Phoenix was my first day of fight camp. Like all my fights, the game plan is to hurt them no matter where the fight ends up. I have to be able to hurt Sara no matter where she takes me. I mean; she has a prestigious wrestling pedigree. Joe added prestigious, by the way, we’re playing Scrabble over here right now, so seriously, no matter when she takes me down I am going to be prepared to hurt her. If she wants to stand and bang, I am going to hurt her.”

NEXT: Murphy on MMA being “too brutal”…

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