Ahead of her UFC fight against Miesha Tate, Lauren Murphy joins Front Row Seat to talk about her life and career. She opens up about losing her dad at a young age, battling drug addiction, and then going from being a beginner in MMA to a professional fighter in less than a year.
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Episode # 9
Episode Title: Lauren Murphy
Guest Information: Lauren Murphy is an American professional mixed martial artist who is currently fighting in the women's flyweight division of the Ultimate Fighting Championship. Murphy is also the former Invicta FC Bantamweight Champion. She's from Anchorage, Alaska.
- Growing up in Alaska
- Trauma after loss of a father at 11
- Being a teenage mom and drug abuse
- Laura's competitive attitude
- Started Jiu-Jitsu martial arts at age 26
- Joining the Alaska Fighting Championship
- Became Alaska Fighting champion within a year
- Learning the sport as an adult
- Lessons taken from the match with Valentina Shevchenko
- Upcoming fight with Miesha Tate
- Rapid fire session with Lauren
Shane: Hello, I'm your host, Shane Mercer and welcome to Front Row Seat, part of the MILLIONS Podcast Network. Remember to like, subscribe, download, follow us on all the socials at frontrow.pod. Our guest today is a legend in women's mixed martial arts. She's been fighting for well over a decade now. “Lucky” Lauren Murphy. Thank you so much for joining me. How are you?
Lauren: I'm really good. Thanks for having me on, I love this.
Shane: You're from a small rural town in Alaska.
Shane: What's it like to grow up in such a remote place.
Lauren: Oh man, how do you describe Alaska? It is beautiful. It's the most beautiful state in the US. It is huge. It's very open. Like I said, there's a lot of rural areas. And when I was a kid, I didn't really appreciate it as much as I do now. When I was a kid, I felt maybe like isolated a little bit like Alaska is not in sync with the rest of the United States. So like concerts, fashion trends, TV shows, restaurants, any kind of like pop culture, anything, Alaska's a little bit behind in it and especially before like we had you know the internet and social media and things like that to rely on. Back then we were really behind like when I was growing up as a kid.
So I think now with like the advent of more technology, they're able to stay like you know kind of in sync with the rest of the nation. But Alaska has a very unique culture, has a very unique feel to it and I think Alaskans in general are just super tough, super hardworking, really good people, were very down to earth, we value hard work a lot. I think we're fine kind of being on our own, we're very hardy people. I'm very proud to be Alaskan.
Shane: You mentioned being very tough and very hardy but you also didn't exactly have a normal childhood aside from being in Alaska as well. Right.
Lauren: No, I wouldn't call it normal, I wouldn't call it normal. No.
Shane: No, I was just going to say you know, for those who don't know, you lost your father at a really young age in a plane crash. I think you were what, 11?
Lauren: I was, yeah.
Shane: Talk to me about your teenage years and trying to sort of move on from that and sort of how that sort of changed the trajectory of your of your life.
Lauren: Yeah. So my dad was incredible, he was an incredible human being and he was like larger than life. He just wanted to do everything that he possibly could and so it's not uncommon for private citizens in Alaska to get their pilot's license. A lot, a lot of Alaskans have boats and planes and all kinds of toys like that so that they can go out and explore Alaska, you know. And so my dad was training to become a pilot, like a single engine plane, a little float plane. And he was in a single passenger crash. He was like his first solo flight on his own and the weather was bad and it's really not uncommon for accidents like that to happen in Alaska.
So I am grateful that he died doing something that he wanted to do though. I'm like glad that he died living his best life I guess. That's the way I could say it best as he died living his best life. But I was pretty close to my dad. I really adored him, I was definitely a daddy's girl. I thought he was just, well he was, he was the coolest guy on the planet. And of course it was devastating when he passed away. It was so traumatic that I couldn't even process how traumatic it actually was. And after he died obviously my life changed a lot. There was a lot of good things about my dad that were suddenly gone out of my life and I was kind of like in shock for maybe a couple of years actually and didn't really know how to process what was going on. Then I discovered drugs like that was like a great equalizer. It helped me cope with some of those feelings that I was having where I didn't know how to relate to other people, I didn't know how to make friends. I was very awkward at school, I just didn't really know how to make friends. I was a really awkward person. I always seemed to say the wrong things I never knew what to wear. I was always listening to the most uncool music and my mom and my stepdad were kind of strict and so I wasn't out doing like all the things that other kids got to do, you know?
We lived on a dirt road, we lived kind of out in the middle of nowhere. I was kind of isolated but when I started hanging out with a crowd of people that were using, I suddenly had like common ground with people. I discovered that like drinking and getting high and stuff like that that was actually something else pretty good at, like it was something that I enjoyed and I felt like I had finally like found my place. That was what my life was supposed to be about. That was literally how I thought about it. And so, from the time I was about 14 until I was, well, I mean I got pregnant when I was 17. I had my son when I was 17 and I stayed sober through my pregnancy, but that was the only time I was sober between like the ages of 14 and 26 basically.
Shane: What kind of drugs are we talking about?
Lauren: Oh, any ones you can basically think of. I think I started like most kids like smoking cigarettes and smoking pot and stuff like that, but I'm an adventurous person and I have always been since the day I was born. I'm the kind of person that takes everything to the nth degree, so I never just dabble in anything. I ride it until the wheels fall off, you know?
And it's funny to me now, like, looking back, I can laugh about it and I can joke about it, but it's not actually like a funny topic, you know? It's not funny the things that I was doing and the drugs that I was using and the situations that I was putting myself in and the people that I harmed and the harm that I caused to myself. None of that is funny, but as I sit here today, a totally different person and a totally different situation, I can find the humor in some of the ridiculousness of what I was thinking and some of the ridiculous situations that I was in and the ridiculous people that I was hanging out with. Looking back all these years later from a totally different viewpoint, it's like, what on earth was I thinking? Like who was I?
When I started I was a lost kid, I was really a kid who wanted friends and I wanted to feel special and I wanted attention and I think that drinking and using was an avenue for me to get those things that I was craving so badly. I didn't know how to get them any other way. So that was how I made friends and that was how I got attention and that was how I felt good about myself. I literally felt like my role in life, my lot in life was to be that person was just to kind of be a drug user, high school dropout, a teenage mom in a small town.
Like now when I think about that, I think about like how shortsighted that was and what a poor existence that actually is. But at the time, I just felt like this is just who I am, this is what I'm supposed to be. I'm not meant for anything greater than this. That was what I carried with me for a long time that I wasn't meant to be anything better.
Shane: So at what point then did you realize that this wasn't the life for you, that you did have a lot better ahead of you if you wanted it?
Lauren: I tried moving around a little bit. I moved to California, I lived in Stockton, California for a little while and I went to school there. And when I first moved there, Stockton, in of all places, I didn't know anybody, so I was sober and I was living with an aunt and uncle and I went to college and I got straight A's. And I was like, oh my God, me like a high school dropout, I can do this. Like I'm actually good at school and maybe there is something more for me. But I really couldn't shake the monkey off my back of addiction, I just couldn't. And so no matter how well I did in school, it didn't really matter because I was always thinking when am I going to get high next, when am I going to get drunk next?
Like school was kind of almost like a competition for me. I didn't realize at the time how competitive of a person I am, but I am a very competitive person and so like going to school was almost like a competition. But yeah, like I said I just couldn't really shake that monkey off my back. I didn't play any sports, I never played a sport growing up. I would go to the gym sometimes. Like, if there was like an LA Fitness or a 24 hour fitness and I would go like basically just pump weights like I had read in magazines. Like I would read like girl magazines and they would give you a little workout, like how to do bicep curls and how many sit ups to do and try to run a mile. But I would literally like smoke a cigarette and go to the gym and then go for a short run and then be like, oh, I can't wait to get off this treadmill so I can have a cigarette. I was drinking a lot and doing a lot of drugs.
I wouldn't say I was an athlete. I would just go to the gym sometimes, you know? But I went to school for a while. I moved back to Alaska from California and I was going to nursing school and I was doing okay in nursing school. I was kind of scraping by as best I could and I didn't love it. I didn't want to really be a nurse. I was proud that I was in college because not many people, I mean, my dad had gone to college, he was an attorney. But like, like I said, I didn't think that that was the life that was meant for me. I never saw myself like getting a degree or anything. I just always told myself that I wasn't worthy of all that, you know?
And so I did go to nursing school for a while, but in my heart I didn't really want to be a nurse. And when I was 26, my son was having some troubles too. He was also a shy kid, he's a small kid and he was having trouble making friends and he was getting picked on a little bit and I know what that's like. When I was growing up, I also had struggles like that and so I thought I'll sign him up for martial arts, that will be a good way for him to get confidence and for him to make friends and for him to feel good about something so that he doesn't have to grow up feeling so isolated and he doesn't have to be bullied, he doesn't have to -- hopefully he won't turn to the same things I did.
So I took him to a Jiu-Jitsu school, I mean literally this is back when we had phone books. It's like 12, 13 years ago now. So like I opened up a phone book and I just stuck my finger in it and it happened to land on a Gracie Barra, which is a Jiu-Jitsu school, it's like a chain of Jiu-Jitsu school and I had no idea what it was, but we showed up. Just to like make my son feel comfortable, I put him in the kids class and I took the adult class, so that way it would be like something that we both did, he wouldn't feel like mom's forcing me into this. I wanted it to feel more like a family activity.
Like I said, like I showed up and I smoked a pack of cigarettes a day at that time. I was drinking all the time, I mean I was drinking all the time, I was doing a lot of pills. I was kind of scraping by in school and I went to Jiu-Jitsu class and there was a few other women in there, a couple other white belt women that were pretty new. I just loved it from the first day, I was like, this is so awesome, you know? I loved how competitive it was, I loved how strong I felt. Other people were commenting about how strong I was, they were like, oh my God, you're strong for a girl especially, you know? I had no idea what they were talking about because like I said, I had never played a sport before. So I had like zero frame of reference for athletics. I just loved it and we walked out of that Jiu-Jitsu school that day and I looked at my son Max and I was like, “That was awesome.” And he was like, “That was terrible.” He hated it. He was like, “Mom, they're all touching each other and I'm all sweaty.” He like didn't like it at all. But I really loved it. And so I was said I'm going to come back and
I started going to Jiu-Jitsu. I bought a Gi it was like an old Judo Gi. I think I got it at like a Play it
Again Sports or something, you know? And I didn't understand at all what I was doing, but I just knew that I really liked it and it was giving me confidence and it was helping me meet people and I felt like I had purpose and I had never really had any of that before in my life. Like I mean, yeah, I've gone to like a gym sometimes, like just trying to get skinny or like I had gone to school before and really wanted to get straight A's just to be competitive with other people in the class. But I had never really had like a purpose because I didn't love nursing, I didn't love school, you know?
But Jiu-Jitsu was something different. Jiu-Jitsu, the day I walked into a Jiu-Jitsu gym was the day my life changed. And I started going three times a week and then I was going five times a week and then it was every day and then it was twice a day and I was obsessed with it and I wasn't even good. Like I really, I was like well into my blue belt years before I was even doing Jiu-Jitsu. But I loved the feel of the team, I loved, like feeling like I was getting better at something and I loved the confidence that it was giving me. I quit smoking and it made me quit smoking cigarettes, which I never thought I would do. I never thought I would quit smoking cigarettes, but I did because I was like I want to have good cardio so I can be better at Jiu-Jitsu.
That Jiu-Jitsu school had an MMA team and these MMA fighters, they were pros. But they were pros in Alaska. Okay, so Alaska had like one big MMA show and they had it once a month and it is called the Alaska Fighting Championship. It still exists and it was on Fight Pass for a long time. Even Jared Cannonier started there, the headliner at UFC 276 and actually Jared was a part of the gym that I went to. We were all on the same MMA team and yeah, a coach there was like, you should do MMA. I was like, I don't know about all that. Like, those guys seemed like superstars to me. They were like incredible. And you know, like I said, I really had some confidence issues. I was like, I don't think that's meant for me. The biggest thing I could ever dream of was maybe someday doing a Jiu-Jitsu match, like, at a local tournament in Alaska, maybe. Like, that was the biggest thing I could dream of.
To think about how far I've come from that and to the stages that I've competed on and fought on and one fights on, it's incredible to think about just a decade ago. The biggest thing I could dream of was maybe doing a Jiu-Jitsu match in front of some people in Alaska.
Shane: What I find most incredible when I was looking at your story, it's that you went from walking in to a Jiu-Jitsu gym with your son to fighting professionally in a matter of six months. That is a turnaround. Like, that is a complete 180, like that.
Lauren: Yeah, so the way that happened was I was going to this Jiu-Jitsu gym, there was a fight team there and I remember sitting on the sidelines and one of the coaches was there and I was like, wow, it would be pretty cool to like, maybe do a fight someday. Like, that would be kind of crazy, you know? And the coach kind of laughed at me, he was like, “You better start training,” and just kind of blew me off a little bit and it kind of pissed me off. And so I started really thinking about it and I ran it by some of my friends and I was like, “What do you guys think? Like, I think I might do like a fight, like, just so I could tell my grandkids about it. I had never been in a fist fight. I was afraid of violence. I was afraid of fighting. I was actually scared of it.” I didn't like that, I didn't like that, I was afraid of it and I didn't want to be afraid of it. Yeah, I really don't know what came over me, but I was like, I think I'm going to try. And all my friends were like, “You're going to do, what? Why would you do that? What are you talking about?” And I was like, I don't know, there's like a fight team and these guys they all trained to fight and then they get in a cage and they fight somebody. Can you imagine doing something? I was like, what if I did that? Do you think I could get into a fist fight.
I didn't know if I could do it or not, I wanted to know if I had like the guts to get in there. I wanted to know if I had what it took to like get into a fight and be able to fight back. I started training with the MMA team and the guys on that team hated it. They’d never had a girl on the team before. They did not want me there. They tried really hard to get me to leave and the meaner they were to me and the more they, like, made disgusting comments and beat me up during practice, that competitive fire that was inside me. It just came roaring to life. I was like, no way, you're not going to scare me off these mats. I'm going to get better and I'm going to come back and I'm going to whoop your ask one of these days. I remember thinking that that I was like, I'm going to work so hard, I'm going to get better and I'm going to come back and I'm going to kick your ass. There was a couple of guys in particular that we're very unkind.
That was the culture in MMA back then. There really wasn't a lot of female fighters and the guys on that team had never seen one. So, I started doing MMA two months after I started doing Jiu-Jitsu and then four months after that, I took a fight and there's no commission in Alaska. So, all the fights were just counted as pro, which I didn't have any idea that there was even a separation between amateur and pro. I didn't know what that even meant. To me, I was just going to try to do this fighting thing just once and then I would have a cool story to tell my grandkids someday, you know? I wanted to know deep inside if I could do it.
So I took a fight, I was terrified. I trained for it. I listened to the coaches that were there though, they kind of walked me through. There wasn't really a weight cut or anything. Like, I don't think the girl that I fought and I even weighed anything close to the same. I think she was a little bit heavier than me, but she was shorter but it counted as a pro fight, and like I said, I didn't even know what that meant. And so anyway, I did this fight and the fight started and I just thought like, be as mean as possible. So I hit her as hard as I could and she fell on the ground and I actually did not know like what she was doing. I was like, what is she doing down there? So I let her get up because I didn't understand that I had knocked her down and she got up and I hit her again and the ref waved off the fight. The girl kind of turned her back to me and she didn't want to fight anymore. And so I got a T. K. O. It was 17 seconds into the fight. I got my hand raised. Nobody I knew came to the fight. I didn't even really tell anybody about it. My two closest friends in the world came, they watched me, they cheered me on, they were terrified for me. But like then I knocked her out in 17 seconds. They were like, “Holy shit, you're a badass!” They got T-shirts made and all that like they just couldn't believe it. I was kind of like yeah, that was pretty cool but it doesn't really count. I was like that's like 17 seconds. I want to get into a fight. Like I want to see if I could do it, get into a real fight. I said that one doesn't really count, I'm going to have to do another one.
So I signed up for another fight and this time with another woman who had a few previous fights and again like I was really scared but I was like I'm going to do this. By this time you know I had been training probably about eight months, nine months, something like that. It was definitely less than a year, it was probably about eight months. And by then I had met a coach that I really liked. The guys on the team were a little bit more used to me. They were some of the guys on the team would actually help me sometimes. And so yeah I took a second fight, I won that fight by T. K. O. in the second round and I probably honestly never would have fought again except that the champion of the Alaska fighting championship, the female champion walked into the cage and she was like, “Oh you think you're so tough? How about you take a fight with me and we'll see how tough you are?” And I mean this was in an arena with an audience, there was an audience around, this was a public fight. I did not want to look like a coward in front of everybody. And so I said, “Okay, I'll fight you, yeah sure.”
And we set a date, we were going to fight three months later. And so when I fought that woman for my third fight I had trained about a year and it was a 5-round, 5-minute-round fight. It was a 25-minute fight that it was scheduled for. She had quite a bit of experience more than me, she had some boxing experience and she had been training in MMA for a while and I'm telling you I just never would have done it if she hadn't challenged me in front of everybody. Like I probably would have gone back to nursing school and gone on with my life. But she challenged me in front of everybody and I didn't want to look like a coward. So I said, yes, and I took the fight and I trained harder than I've ever trained in my life. It was for a championship. And so by now, the team is like super jacked up for me and helping me out. I beat that woman worse than probably I've ever beat anybody in my entire life because by the time we got into that cage I was just like, I'm not backing down now. This is what I wanted. I wanted to know if I could do this. This is what I came to find out. And I found out that night that like I do have it in me, I am tough and I can perform. I can handle the pressure. When they put that belt around my waist, I started crying. I mean it was the Alaska Fighting Championship, right? So it's not like the UFC, it's not like I was in the Olympics.
People might not think much of it now, but to me it's one of my most proud performances because I know how scared I was going into that fight and I know how much bravery it took for me to get in there against somebody that had more experience that I was so nervous about, you know. To go in there and just find my flow state and like perform anyway, it was the first experience I had ever had like that. It was changing my life. I wasn't doing drugs anymore. I got sober like to train for that fight. Like I wasn't drinking every day. I wasn't smoking cigarettes anymore. My whole life was changing, I was making like real friends that were on a team with me and we all had like this common -- we were bleeding and sweating and crying and laughing and training together. I've never had friends like that in my life. I just never experienced anything like that before. And so it was a really, really special thing for me and that's really when I was like, okay, maybe I'll keep doing this. Like maybe I'm a fighter, maybe this is what I'm supposed to be doing and I was like 28 years old, you know.
Shane: It's insane to think that you just picked it up within a year, you fought professionally three times won three times and became the Alaska Champion.
Lauren: Within two years, I had collected another belt. Two belts in Alaska. And then, my boyfriend moved to Florida, Joe Murphy. He was my boyfriend at the time and he got actually transferred with the military down to Florida. And so the coach that I really, really liked in Alaska that had helped me win those fights that really believed in me, he had moved to Texas. So he was living in Texas and we were living in Florida and I drove to Texas to get my blue belt from him. So I've been training like 2.5 years or something. I was a white belt for a long time, but I was a white belt for about three years, which is a ridiculously long time to be a white belt. But like I said, I didn't really understand Jiu-Jitsu for a long time. So anyway, he gave me my blue belt in 2012. And while I was in Texas, I was 4 and 0, and all finishes, two championship belts, just got my blue belt. I'd won those two belts as a white belt and Legacy FC called me and they said, “Do you want to take a fight with us?”
It was kind of short notice. It was like three weeks’ notice or something. And I was like, yeah, actually fought four times that year. I signed with Invicta. I did three fights with Invicta. I won all of those. I had a tough roster in Invicta. I was fighting women that were like in the top 10. So at this point I'd only been training for three years. I've only been an athlete for three years. My first opponent was Kaitlin Young who I fought on short notice. Super tough woman with a lot of experience. I beat her and that was the first decision that I had ever gone to in my career. I remember being really disappointed about that. Like oh I didn't finish her but everybody around me was like, “Dude you've only been training for three years. What are you talking about?” I fought Sarah D’Alelio. She was ranked in the top 10 at the time. And then I fought for the bantamweight championship for Invicta. I fought Miriam Nakamoto, who was a very accomplished Muay Tai practitioner. She's one of the best American females ever to do Muay Thai, she was like 16 and 0 and kickboxing, and I think she was like 3 and 0 or something in MMA. She ended up blowing her knee in the third round and that was how the fight got stopped.
So it was not my favorite way to win a fight, you know? But now I was 8 and 0, I had six finishes and I was pretty sure I was going to go to the UFC and I really wanted to go to the UFC. I wanted to fight the best. I wanted to fight in the UFC so badly. And I just knew I was like, man if I lose one fight, they're not going to sign me. So I really pushed to get into the UFC while I was undefeated. Now it's like been so long but looking back it's like I wish I had had more experience before getting into the UFC because four years is nothing, four years is nothing. Now for somebody to train for four years, they might still be in their amateur career, you know? And at the time I didn't even know what amateur was. I didn't even know what that meant.
So to be signed to the UFC, I'd only been training a pretty short amount of time, I fought Sara McMann for my first fight and she was coming off a UFC title shot. She was an Olympian. She had been an athlete since she was a child and I have to say it intimidated me. It intimidated me to know all her accolades. I kind of felt like I didn't really have a chance and I went in there and we fought to a split decision. It was kind of a weird fight but we fought to a split decision. If only I'd had a little more confidence, you know? And then I fought Liz Carmouche and tried to be confident but couldn't. I started learning lessons as an athlete that most athletes learn when they’re children and these were things that I was learning as an adult on a very big stage.
The first time I ever lost in a sport ever was in the UFC against the UFC title contender and an Olympian, do you know what I'm saying? She has experienced already the ups and downs of wins and losses but I had to go through that as a 30-year-old, 31-year-old woman like on a big stage for the first time ever.
Shane: Yeah. That’s crazy to think that that's where you're learning how to lose because like you said most athletes learn how to lose at a very young age when they're kids and they're playing house league, sports or something like that. And here you are on the world's biggest stage for martial arts learning how to lose.
Lauren: Athletes have to walk a fine line between confidence, arrogance, humility. I've always had a very strong work ethic. I had to learn how to not over train. Yeah, I just had so many lessons that I had to learn that were completely new to me and it's all been lessons even though this last fight that I had with Valentina Shevchenko, I had some lessons that I had to learn and I wish that I had learned those lessons about confidence, humility, arrogance, work ethic. You know? I wish I had learned those lessons as a child playing sports, but I didn't. I'm learning them. I'm still learning them now as an adult.
Shane: Yeah. Okay, so let's talk a little bit about that then because you started off in the UFC with a couple of losses but then you managed to string together you know some wins and from 2019 to 2021 you won five fights in a row. It got you a shot at the championship belt against Valentina Shevchenko and you came up short in that fight. So what are some of the lessons that you took away from that fight with Valentina?
Lauren: A lot. And I'm still kind of processing them to be honest, you know, it is a process to go through something like that. But the biggest one I think is that having a lack of confidence has probably been something that has held me back the most in my career. Since I was a kid I always told myself like, you're not worth this. You shouldn't be having these things, you shouldn't be having these nice things or doing these great things. I had quite a bit of like, imposter syndrome going on where I felt like I didn't belong and I was just kind of faking it and people are going to find out any second that like, I don't really belong here.
Those are hard thoughts to have. First of all, those are like, difficult things to think. You literally have to train your brain around things like that because everybody actually, and I this is something else I had to learn. All athletes experience thoughts like that, and all athletes go through periods like that. And so the best athletes are the ones that are able to recognize it, turn those thoughts around, talk to themselves and train in such a way that they can overcome that. That is what it is being at the highest level. Everybody's skilled at the highest level. But what really separates the greatest from like, the best from the good is their mental state. Their ability to talk to themselves instead of listen to themselves. Their ability to find confidence even when they're not feeling confident.
Having a lack of confidence was probably the biggest fault that I had through that process of training for the title and then fighting for the title. There was a lot of other problems too with that camp that the camp to fight Valentina was by far the worst camp I've ever had in my life. I've had other losses before that maybe I had poor camps or made some mistakes or didn't have a great weight cut or things like that. But the camp to fight Valentina tops them all. Anything that you can think of that could have possibly gone wrong in that camp, went wrong. So, some examples, I got a concussion about halfway through camp, a really bad concussion. So I had to take some time off. While I was taking that time off, I got this tooth right here actually, it was broken and so I went to a dentist. I wanted to get it fixed. It ended up in this horrifying ordeal of like an oral surgery that went wrong that it took a long time to fix. Because of the oral surgery, I had to take antibiotics, the antibiotics led to me contracting a bacterial gut infection called clostridium difficile. It's also known as c diff, I don't know if you've ever heard of it, but it's a debilitating gut infection. I didn't know anything about it and I didn't know how sick I was.
On top of that there was a bunch of drama at the gym. Gym drama and so that was pretty heartbreaking for me. All gyms have drama, but like for it to happen with my group right before the title fight, it really caused a lot of disconnect between me and my coaches. And then like the very last thing that happened was we got two fight week and my head coach, the guy that I was undefeated with, the guy that I'm 9 and 0 with, who took me through Invicta, took me to the Invicta belt, took me on the 5 fight win streak that I was on. I mean we were 9 and 0 together he contracted COVID and the UFC made him go home.
So yeah, I fought Valentina Shevchenko, one of the greatest fighters to have ever walked the face of the earth. I fought her with no head coach and a very serious bacterial gut infection.
Lauren: And so this is what I mean, it's like during fight week, when they made my coach go home, I should have called the fight off, I should have said like, no, I'm not fighting without my coach. And really, the thing is is that I really should not have fought with c diff. I never should have been in the cage that night with a infection like that, but that I did not know. I did not understand how sick I actually was. And so that led to a whole host of other problems after the fight. That led to actually a lot of life changing stuff that needed to happen. But the fight with Valentina, it taught me a lot about like I should have had the confidence to just say this isn't it. I'm not doing it this time. I've never pulled out of a fight, but I'm going to pull out of this one and I'm not going to fight the champion until I'm ready. And
I knew I wasn't ready, but I just didn't want to miss my chance to share the cage with her, like she's the best, you know? And I wanted to fight the best, I wanted to fight the champion and I wanted to be a UFC title contender and I didn't want to miss my opportunity for that. I was afraid that if I didn't fight her right then, I might never get the chance. It was a decision that was made out of fear and decisions that are made out of fear generally are not the right one.
Shane: I don't think anybody would blame you for thinking that you might not get that shot again and you got to take it when it's in front of you. It's easy to look back afterwards and say those things, right?
Lauren: Right. And all I could think was like, what if you never make it back to the title? Because the UFC was very clear. They were like, look, if you don't fight her now, you will have to fight another contender ship fight. And that's a scary prospect in the UFC at the highest level, there's never a guarantee of a win, you know? And so I thought like, could you really go to your grave knowing that you never fought the champion? For me, the answer was no. The answer was like no, I would not want that. I do want to fight the champion, I do want to fight the best and even if the odds are a trillion to one, I'm going to take that chance. That is the kind of person I am. I take things to the nth degree.
But that's what I mean, is my team really should have come together and said no. Like my team should have said, this isn't it? I think that was a massive failure on the part of the people, not only myself, but also the people around me. That's why, I'm at a new camp now here in Colorado and I kind of have a new team around me. That camp to fight Valentina, it was a shit show, it was a shit show. It showed me how many changes I had to make, it showed me that I was not nearly confident enough to fight the champion and what it comes down to in one sentence is I wasn't ready to be the champ. I just wasn't ready. I wasn't ready physically, I wasn't ready mentally and I wasn't ready emotionally. And if I had been, if I were more ready, I would have had the confidence to call it off, I would have had the confidence to fight another championship or another contendership fight. I would not have stood for the drama that was going on in the gym. I would have made sure that my health was in a good place.
But like I said, these are hard lessons to learn on such a big stage. I wish I had learned them younger. I wish I had played sports as a child so that I could have learned some of those lessons and maybe had other athletic experiences to draw on, but I don't. I'm just figuring it out as I go.
I'm confident that I'm one of the toughest women walking the planet. You can say whatever you want about my experience level, you can say whatever you want about my skill level, you can say whatever you want about me, but I don't think anybody can deny how fucking tough I am. That gives me a lot of confidence knowing that like, anybody that watches me fight like you are in to watch a tough fighter put on a tough fight and I'm not going to quit.
Shane: What do you think comes next? Do you see yourself getting another shot at the title?
Lauren: Yes, absolutely. The point is is that I want to show the UFC and I want to show the fans that I've grown as a fighter and that I've learned from my mistakes and that I've learned from that last loss. And I think if I can show Dana that, and show the fans that, then I'll probably be in a contendership fight. If I beat Miesha then I believe my next fight should be a contendership fight. And when I win that one I should fight for the belt again. It doesn't even matter to me who the champion is at the time. I just want to fight for the title again.
Shane: Do you think it will most likely be Valentina? Is that sort of who you see yourself facing in the rematch?
Lauren: I don't know who I'm going to face in the rematch. I haven't thought about that too much. I favor Valentina’s skill set for sure over Taila. But Valentina does, I've heard her say it before. Sometimes she has problems with people that are bigger and Taila is pretty fairly big. She's like long for the division and she's very strong and very powerful. And so I'm interested to see if she can impose that strength and power on Valentina because if she can then maybe she can give Valentina problems. I don't know what area somebody will beat Valentina in. Her clinch is one of the best in the UFC. She has one of the best clinches in the world. Her ground game is no joke from top or bottom. On top, she's incredibly heavy. She's got great control. And on bottom she attacks like she attacks even from bottom in Jiu-Jitsu. And so if your top pressure is not on point, she can catch you in a submission. And we saw that against Julianna Peña. We even fought against Jennifer Maia and those women are skilled on the ground, skilled.
So I think Taila’s best chance would be to like rock Valentina with a hard punch which we've seen Taila do, right? She knocked out Jojo Calderwood in the first round. Like I think Taila has a chance with her power. So we'll see if she can catch the champion. I mean that's the beautiful thing about. A. Is like anything can happen, anything can happen. So if Taila catches her, she can beat her. But, man, if they get into the clinch, I don't see that going well for Taila.
Shane: Why don't we have a little bit of fun. I want to do another screen share.
Shane: Ten minutes after taking CBD. So, you're still kind of on team cannabis a little bit.
Lauren: Yeah, I'm a cannabis user, obviously in camp. Like I have to slow down. I stopped using it weeks before the fight. But yeah, CBD, that's Sonny CBD too. So Sonny’s Wellness, they're awesome. They're awesome. And I love their products and so definitely like after a long day of training, they have drops, but my favorite product is the cream because you can just rub it into like, whatever, sore, rub it into your bruises. My hands always get really sore from gripping and punching and gripping and punching and so when my hands are sore, yeah, I basically bathe in that stuff. It awesome.
Shane: It looks like you're having a good time there. But I guess it helps just relieve the pain and it's all part of your recovery treatment.
Lauren: Yeah, yeah. And I nailed that reel. That was a really funny reel. So I love that. I love the Instagram reels. I think they're hysterical.
Shane: I want to move into something else. Something I love to do with fighters and athletes, people like you. Just a quick rapid fire session. I'll just throw a few questions at you and they're either this or that or yes or no's. So if you're ready for it, we'll do a little rapid fire. Ready to go?
Lauren: Let’s go.
Shane: Boots or heels?
Shane: Chicken or steak?
Shane: Ice cream or popsicles?
Lauren: Ice cream.
Shane: Peanut butter, crunchy or smooth?
Shane: Morning lark or night owl?
Lauren: Night owl. Always have been.
Shane: Deep sea diving or a trip to space?
Lauren: Oh gee, they both sound terrifying. Probably, a trip to space. I would do a trip to space. There's too many monsters in the ocean.
Shane: Anything else that you want to mention before we say goodbye?
Lauren: No, I'm just, you know, I'm out here in Denver. I'm training with the Elevation Fight Team and I train in Easton as well and like I'm just loving it. I'm really enjoying the process. I'm loving this camp. I can't wait to get back in the cage and put on an awesome show. You know? I'm healthy. I feel good and I just want to show how much I've learned and how much better I've gotten since I fought the champion and I'm going to work my way back to the title.
Shane: Well, we're rooting for you. Absolutely. And for anyone who wants to support you, they can go to MILLIONS.co and shop your merch. We've got the four leaf clover as a symbol on your merch there.
Shane: The four leaf octagon. The line is, “Make your own luck, Octagon.”
Lauren: Yeah, that's it and that's what I'm about. I fell into fighting but I have definitely made it my home and, that's what life is about is about making your own luck. And so I noticed that the harder I work, the luckier I get.
Shane: Right. And fans can also hit you up for like a personal video too, right? They can ask you anything.
Lauren: Yeah, actually I love getting the AMAs. I love getting AMAs. And I always send back a really good video. So anything you guys want to ask me, anything you're wondering about from, I don't know anything growing up in Alaska to what it's like to fight in the UFC, anything, please. Yeah, please hit me up. You can ask me about Jiu-Jitsu. I'm a two-time Jiu-Jitsu world champion. Hopefully going to be a three-time this year. Ask me what it was like to fight for the title. Anything, anything, anything but I love getting the AMA. I love making videos for fans. I like interacting with the fans. So you can hit me up on Twitter or Instagram as well. But to get really personal, going to MILLIONS and getting one of those AMAs is definitely the way to go.
Shane: Awesome. Well there you go guys, get out there, check it out. Take a look at the merch. Ask her your questions, whatever you've got. Lauren all the best of luck, we're all rooting for you. Let's go out there and get it.
Lauren: Yeah, let's go get it. Thank you so much.
Shane: Thank you for joining me in the Front Row Seat with “Lucky” Lauren Murphy. Once again, I'm your host, Shane Mercer and this podcast is presented by MILLIONS.co. If you want to support and interact with Lauren, visit MILLIONS.co to ask her anything, shop her merch and join her for exclusive live events. You can also find Front Row Seat on MILLIONS to shop our merchandise. Don't forget to subscribe to this podcast on YouTube and follow us on all socials at frontrow.pod. We'll see you next week with our next special guest as we dive deep and give you the Front Row Seat.