Being ranked near the top of the division but already falling to the champion put Murphy in a strange position where she hoped for a big opportunity to get back in the title hunt, but she couldn’t have been any happier when the matchmakers finally called with an offer.
“When they said that Miesha [Tate] wanted to fight me, I clapped my hands and I jumped up and down,” Murphy revealed on The Fighter vs. The Writer. “I could not thank the universe more for giving me this gift. This is perfect for me.”
As a former UFC bantamweight champion, Tate carries a lot of history with her as she makes her debut at 125 pounds at UFC Long Island. Tate also happens to be one of the biggest names in the history of women’s MMA, thanks to a long list of accolades achieved during her career, not to mention a past rivalry with Ronda Rousey that put her in the spotlight several times over the years.
Now, as she embarks on a new start at 125 pounds, Tate was obviously looking to make a splash in her new division, which is why she apparently chose Murphy as a first opponent.
“She’s going to get what she asked for,” Murphy said. “In this game, you’ll end up getting something you might not want.”
Of course, the biggest storyline surrounding the matchup almost exclusively revolves around Tate, because she’s not only a star, but she also happens to be one of the only fighters with a recognizable name who hasn’t already faced Shevchenko in the past.
Tate has acknowledged several times in interviews that she fully expects to jump to the front of the line for title contention with a win over Murphy.
As much as that might anger some fighters — the idea that an opponent is stealing away the spotlight — don’t count Murphy among them, because what better way to get back in the hunt for another shot at UFC gold than to take out a hand-picked successor?
“I do love to be the underdog,” Murphy said. “I do love to be the spoiler. But it’s like, when I see comments about the fight — and I don’t see too many comments, but every time I do see comments, it’s like, ‘This is going to be a sick fight.’ That’s why they put us on a big card. I know I’m going to show up and perform. I know I’m going to have a great night.
“These are the fights that I’ve earned and these are the fights I belong in, and this is a perfect opportunity to showcase why. But I didn’t just fall into this fight by accident. I’m here for a reason too.”
Murphy understands why so much attention is being paid to Tate, but that just raises the stakes for both of them come Saturday.
She appreciates that the UFC needs new blood to challenge the champion, but Murphy has no intentions of letting Tate just trot into a title fight on her first day in the division.
“I know that people love to focus on Miesha and she’s a former champion and she hasn’t faced Valentina yet, and blah, blah, blah,” Murphy said. “It just doesn’t really matter to me.
“I feel like I’m on my home turf. This is what I’ve done my whole career. I’ve gone in and upset people, I’ve made it my night. I like to make fights dirty. I come out with the win and get my hand raised, and that’s kind of been the story of my career.”