Lauren Murphy of Anchorage scored a spectacular knockout in a triumphant return to the UFC octagon Saturday in Newark, New Jersey.
Fighting for the first time in 16 months, Murphy annihilated Italy’s Mara Romero Borella in the women’s flyweight fight with a knee to the head that crumpled her opponent midway through the third round. Murphy followed with three strikes to the head before the referee ended the fight.
Murphy, 36, is ranked ninth in the UFC’s flyweight division, a status she reaffirmed with gusto.
“The knee, like, wasn’t really planned, but what else are you going to throw there?” Murphy said in a post-fight press conference. “You’re in this sick … clinch position with her head right there. You make sure both her hands are off the mat and do it to it.”
Murphy, who got her start in Anchorage’s AFC, improved to 11-4 overall and 3-5 in the UFC. She has won eight of her fights by knockout, and according to UFC News only four other women have won UFC fights with knee strikes.
The win, which some fight analysts are calling the biggest victory of Murphy’s career, came as part of UFC Fight Night in Newark. The crowd included Donald Trump Jr., Eric Trump and some of their children, and during her press conference, a reporter told Murphy one of the children was “taken aback” by the manner in which Murphy ended the fight.
“Somebody else said that, like that she was horrified,” Murphy said. “You’re at the fights, what did you think was going to happen? This is what we do.”
Borella dropped to 12-6 overall, 2-2 UFC.
In her previous fight, Murphy lost by decision to Sijara Eubanks. She took more than a year off to have foot surgery, and during her recovery she switched camps, according to ufc.com, leaving Phoenix for Houston. In Texas, she said at her press conference, she trained with the coach who helped her win the 2013 Invicta world bantamweight championship.
Now that she is back, she hopes to stay back.
“I’m trying to make some money,” Murphy said. “I want paycheck after paycheck. I really want to just experience as much as I can while I can. We’re here for a good time, not a long time, so line ‘em up.
“… Someday I’m going to be a 60-year-old buying my ticket to sit in the crowd reminiscing about the days that I got to be in the cage and wish I was back. So I don’t want to waste this time or waste this gift I have.”