Invicta Bantamweight Champ Lauren Murphy is About to Step into the Octagon.
Invicta Bantamweight champ Lauren Murphy makes her UFC debut Saturday at Fight Night 47: Bader vs. Saint Preux, against Sara McMann. If you’re not familiar with Lauren, her compelling history is detailed on Fightland in a series by Aurora Ford.
Years ago, Lauren and I were in the same class in elementary school. We grew up in a small town in Alaska and ran in similar circles, although we didn’t have much contact over the years. Given our common background, I found myself wondering: what’s going through Lauren’s head when she’s about to fight in the biggest MMA promotion in the world?
Here’s what she said.
I have up days and down days. Sometimes, I know without a doubt I can beat my opponent, and sometimes I’m certain that I can beat anyone in the division. Other days, I feel like I can’t get anything together; my feet are stuck in the mud, everything is heavy and slow. The combinations I have been working aren’t coming together, I can’t remember the proper place for my hands for this escape to work and how in the hell did I get in that position in the first place? Some days I’m on fire and it all comes to me without thinking too much. Some days I worry and some days I don’t.
I’ve come so far on so very little. In four weeks (Ed. – at the time of writing), just 28 days, I will be standing in the world famous Octagon. I will be facing an Olympian. Sara McMann has been an athlete in combat sports for 20 years. I have been an athlete for four. That’s the thought that occurs to me the most. I can’t believe how far I’ve taken this sport.
Five years ago, I was dying every day, smoking a pack a day and trying desperately to not stick a needle in my arm, drink myself to death, or blow my brains out. Drugs and alcohol kept me from wanting to kill myself. Without those substances I would hate life. I hated my life and I hated being sober. I was trying to find a way to feel differently so I wouldn’t feel like I had to blow my brains out; drugs and alcohol were perfect for that.
I’d use or drink for a while, clean up a little, wonder if any of it was worth it, and then hate being in my body – it would feel so uncomfortable in there when I was sober! But my using days rarely occur to me when I train or when I fight. I only think about them when I haven’t trained for a long time and I’m out of the gym for an extended period of time.
However, I do often wonder how I made it here. Was it fate? Destiny? Do those things exist? Was it just hard work? Luck? How far will it go? How long can I do this? What does the rest of this story look like? How in the flying fuck did I end up in Phoenix, Arizona training for a UFC fight against a woman ranked in the top 5 in the world?
I try not to stress too much, because there is so much we can’t control in this business. Of course, some days I do, but I have a great support system. My husband is my rock when I am not strong. I have a great coach and an awesome team. They know I am an emotional person, and all fighters have a little extra something special inside them: something crazy, something angry, some kind of drive or emotion others don’t have. We get irrational, we get mad, we get obsessive. My supporters get that. They accept me in spite of, or sometimes because of, it. I know if Sara does beat me, it won’t be because I was lazy or ill prepared. I can live with that.
What I can’t live with is not giving it my all. Knowing that I worked my hardest, I can hold my head up high. This time in camp is precious to me. I can’t live with myself thinking I wasted any, so I don’t. I don’t waste a single second.
You can follow Lauren on Twitter: @LaurenMurphyMMA