Lauren Murphy of Eagle River faces the fight of her life Saturday when she makes her debut in the UFC, the major league of mixed martial arts.
Murphy, who got her start in the Alaska Fighting Championship, will meet Olympic wrestling medalist Sara McMann in a bantamweight bout on the undercard of UFC Fight Night 47 in Bangor, Maine.
Murphy, 30, got hooked on mixed martial arts when she took her son, then 9, to a jujitsu class in Anchorage. The son didn’t care much for it, but Murphy did. She quickly became an AFC success, winning a state title in 2010, her first year of fighting.
Now she’s poised to become the seventh Alaskan, and the first Alaska woman, to fight in the UFC. Previously a men’s-only club, the UFC added women’s divisions in 2013 and already boasts a superstar in Ronda Rousey, who parlayed fight fame into a starring role in “Expendables 3.”
In December, Murphy captured the bantamweight title in Invicta FC, a women’s version of the UFC. The victory improved her pro record to 8-0 and vaulted her into the UFC.
McMann, a silver medalist in women’s wrestling at the 2004 Summer Olympics, is 7-1 as a pro. She’s 1-1 in the UFC and is hoping to rebound from her last bout, a loss to Rousey.
Though Murphy lives and trains in Arizona now, she said she hopes to make Alaska proud Saturday.
“I want everybody in Alaska to know that I really just want to make them proud and I’m going to fight my hardest on Saturday and leave it all in the cage,” Murphy told the Alaska Sports Hall of Fame earlier this week. “I hope I’ve done right by my home state.”
The fight will be broadcast on Fox Sports 2. Coverage begins at 4 p.m. and will be aired at the Peanut Farm.