Lauren Murphy picked up another key victory on her path to a title shot on Saturday, but she wishes the result could have been more conclusive.
In a bout that likely determined the next challenger for flyweight champion Valentina Shevchenko, Murphy picked up a split decision win over Joanne Calderwood at UFC 263, which took place at Gila River Arena in Glendale Ariz. The first and third rounds of the bout were competitive standup frames, while Murphy won the most convincing round in the second as she worked Calderwood over on the ground.
Though Murphy earned her fifth straight victory and a potential title shot, she admits that she was upset she couldn’t put away her fellow contender.
“I am honestly disappointed with myself that I didn’t get a finish in the second round, but that’s just really the kind of competitor I am,” Murphy said on What the Heck. “I was really bummed, I actually cried about it after the fight when we got back to the hotel. I was so furious at myself for not finishing the fight and when we went back and watched it was like I was right there. I wanted that so badly. I went into this fight believing that I could finish her and that I was gonna make such a huge statement, so I was so close to having that performance. But at this level it’s seconds and inches. I was seconds and centimeters away from finishing that fight and I was disappointed in myself for not doing that.
“But that’s why I am the competitor that I am. That is why I display so much growth between fights. So if there is any frustration I think that’s what it’s about, is that I wasn’t able to complete that finish in time. It’s okay, I’m super happy with the win, I think I showed a lot of growth and I was a little bit irritated about it being a split decision.”
Murphy is no stranger to split decisions, having won the last three that she was involved in. She beat Calderwood on Saturday, edged out a razor-thin split against Andrea Lee at UFC 247, and also beat Barb Honchak by split decision in Murphy’s flyweight debut at The Ultimate Fighter 26 Finale.
Against Calderwood, two judges gave Murphy a 29-28 score while the other had it 29-28 the other way. Not only does Murphy think she clearly won two of the rounds, she doesn’t understand how her dominance on the ground in the second round wasn’t rewarded with a 10-8.
“A hundred percent it should have been a 10-8,” Murphy said. “A hundred percent. If she moved at all to her stomach, I was going to take her back and choke her out. If she moved anymore onto her back, I would have mounted her and pounded her to death.
“She had to stay on her side and defend with one arm for for, like, four minutes or something like that. That’s insane. The only other person to do that in our division is Valentina Shevchenko. The only other person that has rounds like that in our f*cking division is the champion herself, right?”
The argument for Calderwood taking a couple of rounds is that the official stats show her having the advantage in significant strikes in rounds one and three. However, Murphy is confident that she won the first and even sees the third round as being a competitive one.
In the end, what matters is that Murphy did enough to win over two of the judges and that she has likely cemented her spot as the No. 1 contender at 125 pounds.
“It definitely wasn’t competitive in the second round at all,” Murphy said. “I think I dominated in the second round, it could have easily been a 10-8. I think in the first round I was hitting all the hardest shots. I think she hit me with the spinning elbow in the very last couple of seconds, but then I took her back for it. I don’t know, I thought we clearly won round one. Even going into the second I was like, ‘Okay, we won the first round, but let’s get a takedown this round.’ And then when I got the takedown it felt so easy and I felt so dominant.
“In the third I just couldn’t quite get into her hips. I started shooting from really far out, just trying to turn it into other stuff. Maybe I can get in a shot, but then turn it into some strikes or turn it into a clinch situation or something like that. I gave her an edge in the third, but it was still super competitive. I thought I pretty clearly won the first and I dominated in the second. I thought it was an awesome performance really out of both of us, but I was super happy with mine and I’m happy with the way the fight turned out and I think I made a statement especially with my wrestling and my ground game.”