Facing an unorthodox, unknown newcomer as a late replacement didn’t bother Eagle River’s Lauren Murphy at UFC 254.
She came prepared for anything to happen.
A technical fighter who normally wins with supreme striking skills, Murphy this time got her opponent to tap out after using a wicked rear naked choke in the second round to beat UFC rookie Liliya Shakirova of Uzbekistan at Fight Island in Abu Dhabi.
This was Murphy’s first submission victory in 18 professional fights.
“At 37 years old, this is the best version of Lauren Murphy we are seeing,” said ESPN MMA commentator Daniel Cormier.
Murphy, of Chugiak High fame, has now won four straight fights to improve to 14-4.
She is 6-4 in the UFC, the world’s biggest and baddest fighting league.
Murphy is ranked No. 4 in the women’s UFC flyweight division and was supposed to face another top-ranked fighter in Cynthia Calvillo, who had to pull out after testing positive for COVID.
The Murphy-Calvillo fight was supposed to catapult the winner to a potential title shot.
Murphy might get one anyway after dispatching Shakirova (8-2) in spectacular fashion.
Murphy looked strong and confident from the start, leading the dance by dictating tempo.
She was always in the middle of the octagon, perpetually pushing her opponent back.
Murphy flashed tight combos and played great defense before taking Shakirova to the ground. Murphy maintained her advantage and then gained position for a choke hold.
Not only did Murphy win, but she took minimal damage. She was unscathed for the most part.