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Lauren Murphy confident she can solve Valentina Shevchenko puzzle

Lauren Murphy doesn’t see anyone standing in the way of her and Valentina Shevchenko now.

In the past, Murphy has been candid about where she feels she stands in the flyweight contenders’ rankings, telling MMA Fighting earlier this year that while she wants her shot at the 125-pound title, she wasn’t rushing to campaign for it. This despite rattling off four straight wins ahead of her clash with Joanne Calderwood at UFC 263 this past Saturday.

Murphy made it five straight with a split decision over Calderwood and with yet another ranked notch on her current run, there is no more equivocating for her when it comes to title talk.

“One hundred percent I’ve earned the title shot,” Murphy said on What the Heck. “Who can deny that? Nobody in the division has anything even close to the same resume that I have. Nobody in that division has five straight wins over all ranked opponents. None of my opponents have been a gimme. It’s either been people in the top-10—or one short-notice fight that was totally out of my control, but it was a short-notice fighter, she was tough, she was champion of another promotion and I took her on in a week’s notice—I’ve never been finished. I’ve never even been close to getting finished. Every loss that I have is to either a former champion or a UFC title contender.

“The losses that I have are so f*cking close, it’s ridiculous. I could easily be 17-2, 18-1, something like that, I could be 9-1 in the UFC or 10-1, I don’t even know what my record is right now. But it’s something close to those numbers. Nobody else has even anywhere near the resume that I have. Nobody’s even discussed a 10-8 round when I’m fighting, nobody’s ever done that to me. For me to go out and do it to these other girls is incredible, especially considering I never even had a background in athletics before I started this sport. I think when you take my whole story together, it’s crazy what I’ve done in this division, the resume that I’ve built up around myself over time is absolutely f*cking incredible and I’m excited to take all of that together and go put it on the line for the championship. I feel I’ve earned it. I know I deserve it.”

At Saturday’s post-fight press conference, UFC President Dana White would not commit to Murphy as the next challenger for Shevchenko and Murphy’s team is yet to have a conversation with the matchmakers about the veteran getting a long-awaited title shot.

But it’s clear as day to Murphy, whose recent wins include Calderwood, Roxanne Modafferi, Andrea Lee, and Mara Romero Borella. “Lucky” is also a former Invicta FC bantamweight champion and she has only lost once since moving to 125 pounds. Going case-by-case, Murphy doesn’t see how any other contender has a better argument for a championship opportunity than her.

“It is the belt for us next,” Murphy said. “Tatiana Suarez can come up to 125, let her win five in a row and then she can get a shot at the belt. Let her fight the people that I’ve fought and come out with the victories that I’ve come out with and see how that goes. Nobody has put together the resume that I’ve put together. Nobody has the win streak. Nobody has the toughness and the heart that I’ve displayed in all of my fights. Really, I’ve never been shut down, I’ve never been rocked, I’ve never even been close to being finished. Nobody’s ever whupped my ass. I don’t know why people tend to overlook that, but I’m a f*cking tank. Nobody’s hurting me out there. We’re talking I’ve been fighting the best of the best and I’m coming out with victories over these girls. I’m getting my hand raised consistently every time over them.

“I almost finished Jojo Calderwood on Saturday. Can Katlyn Chookagian f*cking say that? No. I watched their fight back—I watched it on mute by the way, which really helps a lot—I thought Jojo won that fight. I thought Jojo beat her. I watched Jessica Eye and Jojo Calderwood fight, Jessica Eye couldn’t even take her down. Jessica Eye didn’t have no f*cking 10-8 round like I did, are you out of your minds? What are you people watching? What has Jennifer Maia done? Miss weight a bunch of times and then she beat Jojo who took the fight on one week’s notice. Come on. Let me fight Jojo when she’s got one week’s notice and I’ll finish her in the second round. I just don’t know what people think they’re talking about. Who just fought for the title, Jessica Andrade? She has one fight in the division. What was her record in her last four? I’m telling you, when when I was 1-3 in the UFC, they were talking about cutting me, not about giving me a f*cking title shot.”

Murphy would like to return in the fall for a fight with Shevchenko, who has emerged as one of the UFC’s most dominant champions. Shevchenko recently successfully defended the flyweight championship for a fifth consecutive time and has rarely been in danger in any of her defenses.

Should Murphy get the shot, she’s convinced that she can present a challenge unlike any that Shevchenko has dealt with in the past.

“I really do believe in my coaches and they believe in me,” Murphy said. “I think we can find holes in Valentina’s game and I think I’m strong enough to exploit them. I think I’m tough enough to get to where I need to go with her. She hasn’t faced anybody as tough as me. She hasn’t faced anybody that can grind like I can grind.

“Seriously. I mean, look at my resume and look at my past fights. I have the biggest heart, I’m one of the toughest girls ever. Not just in the division, I’m one of the toughest girls ever. I’m the strongest girl in the division. I’m a huge flyweight. And I think my top game in jiu-jitsu is second to none.”

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