Sports

Alaska’s Lauren Murphy will fight for world championship at UFC 266

She asked for it. Now she’s getting it.

Alaska’s Lauren Murphy will fight for the UFC flyweight championship Sept. 25, an opportunity she earned by winning her last five fights.

She’ll face 125-pound world champion Valentina Shevchenko, who has successfully defended her title six times, most recently in April.

“From a dirt road in Alaska, to the biggest stage in MMA with the greatest female flyweight of all time,” Murphy tweeted after the bout was finalized last week. “Luck is simply where hard work and opportunity intersect, and that’s where you’ll find me.”

Murphy, who turns 38 next week, grew up in Eagle River and got her start in 2010 with the Alaska Fighting Championship.

She’s 6-1 since dropping down to the UFC’s flyweight division in 2018, and she’s been demanding a title shot for months.

After winning her fourth straight fight in October at UFC 254 in the United Arab Emirates, Murphy climbed onto the octagon fence in front of press row and shouted a message to matchmakers.

“Stop overlooking me! I’m the true No. 1 contender!” she said. “... The next time I step into this cage, it will be to fight for the UFC belt. The next time I step out of it, I will be wearing it. I promise.”

Murphy’s prediction didn’t come true — her next fight was a nontitle fight at UFC 263 in June. She took a split decision over Joanne Calderwood for her fifth straight victory.

About a month later, the UFC announced a title fight between Murphy and Shevchnko for UFC 266 in Las Vegas.

Shevchenko is 33 and an absolute force. She’s 10-2 in UFC fights and 21-2-0 overall, with seven knockouts and seven submissions.

Murphy is 7-4 in UFC fights and 15-4 overall. In 2013, she won the Invicta FC world bantamweight championship.

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