5 Defining Moments: Lerone Murphy

Home to two of the world’s best-known soccer clubs, Manchester, England, also serves as the stomping grounds for Ultimate Fighting Championship featherweight contender Lerone Murphy.

Murphy represents a fresh breed of mixed martial arts talent emerging from the heart of the United Kingdom, as he boasts an undefeated professional record that includes a 5-0-1 mark in the UFC. His rise to the top serves as a case study of a fighter’s journey through the shadows of violence and adversity, with MMA providing the guiding light. Murphy will look to further strengthen his resume when he faces former Ring of Combat champion Edson Barboza in the UFC Fight Night 241 main event on Saturday at the UFC Apex in Las Vegas.

Ahead of his Murphy’s scheduled clash with Barboza, a look at five of the moments that have come to define him at this stage of his career:

1. Planting Seeds

Murphy is the nephew of the late Oliver Harrison, a boxing trainer famous for having groomed the likes of Amir Khan and Rocky Fielding. Though he carries his uncle’s teachings with him to this day, Murphy expanded upon his boxing skills and started his pursuit of MMA when he walked into the All Powers gym. “The Miracle” made his amateur debut in November 2014, when he suited up against James Doolan under the International Combat Elite Fighting Championship banner. Murphy won via guillotine choke submission in the second round and went on to collect two more victories before he turned pro in March 2016.

2. A TKO Tempest

Murphy started his professional run as a lightweight. Following a unanimous decision over Martin Fouda in his debut, his next four fights could be labeled as “The Fast and the Furious.” Between February 2017 and April 2018, Murphy broke free from his bridle and scored four consecutive first-round technical knockouts. He defeated Tyler John Thomas, Jamie Lee, Nathan Thompson and Terry Doyle in succession, leaving a trail of destruction in his wake. Neither Thompson nor Doyle managed to escape the first minute with Murphy.

3. Golden Ticket

Murphy took on Manolo Scianna for the Full Contact Contender featherweight championship at FCC 23 on May 18, 2019. Both fighters swung with vigor, until Murphy changed levels to take the fight to the ground. He stayed heavy on Scianna’s back, but the Italian found the necessary space to break free. They briefly met in the center of the cage before Murphy caught Scianna with a staggering overhand right, then took the fight to the ground and pounded out the finish at the 2:22 mark of the first round. Radiant in victory, Murphy paced around the cage, gesturing a phone call and almost certainly signaling to the UFC that he was big-league ready. The UFC took notice, and he made his Octagon debut almost six months later.

4. Resilient on the Rebound

Murphy fought to a split draw with Zubaira Tukhugov in his first Octagon assignment at UFC 243. He neither pouted nor rested on his laurels, choosing instead to march forward and take on Ricardo Ramos at UFC on ESPN 13. Both men were aggressive from the outset, homing in on a decisive outcome. Ramos found success early at range while Murphy displayed resilience by taking the fight to his opponent. With nearly 90 seconds left in the first frame, Murphy scored a takedown and started dropping bombs on Ramos, clipping his chin multiple times. The relentless onslaught led to a seemingly delayed reaction from referee Rich Mitchell, as Murphy walked away with the TKO victory at the 4:18 mark of the first round.

5. A Strengthening Storm

There has been no looking back for Murphy since he turned away Ramos. He followed the effort with a unanimous decision over Douglas Silva de Andrade, then dismantled Makwan Amirkhani with a vicious knee strike at UFC 267. Two more victories over Gabriel Santos and Joshua Culibao came next, setting up the 32-year-old Murphy for a potential run at the top of the featherweight division.

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