Alaska’s Lauren Murphy won her fifth straight bout Saturday night, and it could be enough to earn her a shot at the UFC women’s flyweight title.
Murphy made her case with a split decision over Joanne Calderwood at UFC 263 at Gila River Arena in Glendale, Arizona.
She dominated the second round of the three-round fight, televised by ESPN, to earn a 29-28, 28-29, 29-28 victory.
After going 2-4 in her first six UFC fights, Murphy raised her record to 7-4 by continuing a winning streak that dates back to August 2019. She’s 15-4 all-time in MMA fights, a career that began in 2010 with the Alaska Fighting Championships.
UFC 263 marked a homecoming of sorts for Murphy, 37. She lives and trains in Houston, Texas, but for years she trained in Phoenix.
Both fighters weighed in at 125 pounds. Calderwood (15-6 MMA, 7-6 UFC) was considered the favorite, and although Murphy put her in a clinch in the first round, she retaliated with numerous kicks that may have given her the first round.
Murphy used her physical strength to control the second round and ultimately win the bout. She took Calderwood to the ground, pinned her against the cage and spent more than half of the five-minute round on top of her opponent, peppering her with punches to the face, legs and arms.
Murphy’s right eye was swelling badly by the third round. Calderwood, 35, spent the round kicking and jabbing, she couldn’t undo the damage done by Murphy in the previous round.
“I knew if I got the takedown I could be very dominant,” Murphy said after she was declared the winner. “That’s what I do, is I keep finding ways to win these fights.”
“I’m gonna go home happy tonight. I love my team, I love my job, I’m happy to be back in Phoenix and I’m happy to fight someone as tough as Joanne Calderwood.”
At stake in the fight was a chance for either fighter to show she deserves a shot at UFC flyweight champion Valentina Shevchenko. There is no clear No. 1 contender, but Murphy’s latest victory might earn her that distinction.