Lauren Murphy recently defeated Miriam Nakamoto at Invicta FC 7 for the inaugural Invicta FC Bantamweight Championship, and shared with us her thoughts about her win, what has changed for her, and most importantly; where she keeps the Invicta FC title belt.
Corey Smith: The coverage of your remarkable life story has been fairly in depth. What do you think it is about your life that seems to draw so much attention?
Lauren Murphy: I don’t know! My life seems pretty normal to me, haha! I actually think that’s why people like it. I’m just a normal person. I wasn’t raised to be a champion, I haven’t been an athlete since I was a kid, I am not an Olympian, and I’m not a black belt in ANYTHING.
LM: I’m just a normal person who had some struggles, which I believe everyone has in some way or another. I’m just your average Lauren, who worked really hard, and achieved some cool things doing something I love. People look at me and they can relate to that. If I can do it, maybe anyone can do it. It’s hopeful.
CS: You recently defeated Miriam Nakamoto for the inaugural Invicta FC Bantamweight Championship. What was your game plan going into that bout? How much did the fight deviate from how you envisioned it?
LM: It didn’t really deviate until she didn’t stand up in the fourth round. Our game plan was solid, in my mind. We knew I would have some trouble with her on the feet, of course! I would hope so, she’s a Muay Thai stud, right?!
LM: But, I didn’t want to run out there and shoot on her right away. To me, in a way, that seemed cowardly, and the fans don’t want to see that. I’m here to fight! I wanted to show her, and everyone else, that I was willing to stand and trade with one of the best strikers in the world. So that’s what I did.
LM: I know she got the better of me on our feet, but I landed enough punches hard enough to bloody her nose and let her know she couldn’t knock me out. I’ve only trained for four years, so to stand with an 8-time world champ who has trained for 14, I’m proud of that.
LM: We also figured she would get tired in the third and later rounds, and wouldn’t be as likely to stop a takedown. But shooting on her, in the open, when she’s fresh, that’s just dumb. That’s a great way to eat one of her infamous knees. So we weren’t going to do that.
CS: Nakamoto suffered a knee injury in the bout, and was unable to continue. What are your thoughts on how the bout ended?
LM: There is no doubt Miriam was hurt, and I think that’s too bad. You never want to see an athlete get seriously hurt like that. Some people have said I don’t deserve that belt and that she should have won. I think that’s just silly, for a lot of reasons. Miriam asked for that fight to be stopped, not me. She fell and did not pull guard or try to fight off her back. She did not look for sweeps or armbars or anything.
LM: We were not even in striking distance when she fell, yet she rolled and turned her back. There were a lot of pics on social media of her later, training the day after surgery and such, doing Jiu Jitsu and whatever else. I saw that many people thought that was very amazing, and I just had to wonder, why wasn’t any Jiu Jitsu done during the fight, when it counted? When the world championship was on the line, where was the toughness and heart that would allow her to return to training one day after surgery?
LM: Many fighters have fought with torn up ACL’s, for instance, Conor McGregor went on to put on the fight of his life with one, so it is possible. “The mind rules the body”, as they say. I’m not saying she wasn’t hurt. I am saying, if she wanted to win, she should have kept fighting. It’s not my fault she didn’t continue. If the fans have an issue with it, I believe they should take it up with her.
LM: I was willing to fight Miriam on one leg. I would have crawled out to the 4th and 5th rounds if I had to, that’s how badly I wanted win. Some fighters would rather quit than take an ass beating. Me, I’d rather take an ass beating than ever quit. That’s why I am the champion.
CS: Can you tell us what you said to Miriam before the official decision was announced?
LM: Yeah, I just asked her what happened.
CS: What do you think will be the biggest difference between winning the belt and defending the belt?
LM: Nothing changes as far as my mindset goes. I have always worked really hard and improved by leaps and bounds between each fight. That won’t change. What has changed, maybe, is everyone else’s mindset. Now they have to come get me and try to take what’s mine. That means they’ll be hungry. But I’ll be hungrier. I always have been. I still am. I still have something to prove.
CS: As champion, what are your thoughts on the Invicta Bantamweight division?
LM: It’s great!! I have fought three really tough girls in there so far J, so I would say it’s full of talent. I think there are a lot of very good up and comers that are young, hungry and talented. It’s exciting. I can’t wait to see how the story of the bantamweight division unfolds.
CS: This January you provided commentary for your home state promotion, Alaska Fighting Championships. How did that come about? What was the experience like for you?
LM: It was really a lot of fun! The AFC has always been good to me. I am actually the title holder for the women’s division there, so the owner (Sarah Lorimer) found out I was coming to Alaska for a while and asked if I would like to commentate. I was nervous the first fight, but got the hang of it quickly. The guy I commentated with, Kevin Avellar, has been commentating a long time, so he knew how to fill the silences, what to talk about, how to introduce the fighters, etc.
LM: I have a lot of respect for good commentators; they can make or break a promotion trying to get home viewers! It was a very cool experience and I hope to be able to do it again sometime.
CS: Some champions sleep with the belt, others put it up on the mantle. Where do you keep the title belt?
LM: HA! Actually, it’s been toted around in my backpack through airports and across state lines in my car maybe more than anything since I won it. I have been travelling a lot, and it’s been coming with me. Everyone wants to take pictures with it, and I am more than happy to break it out anytime someone asks. I like showing it off.
CS: What was the reaction like your first time back at your home gym after you won the championship? Are there any perks of being champion? A closer parking spot perhaps?
LM: HA! I usually park on the sidewalk anyway ;) I got a lot of hugs from my team mates and a lot of kids wanted to hold it and wear it, but other than that, people treat me pretty much the same….I really only try to associate with good, positive people anyway, soooo……it’s hard to tell a difference!! I can tell my coaches are proud are proud of me, and that means a lot. A big part of me fights hard to make them proud, because they take so much time with me.
LM: Other than that, I noticed I basically have a big target on my back now, because everyone wants to be able to say they beat up the champ, whether it’s kickboxing, BJJ, wrestling, whatever. So I basically have to work twice as hard and take much more punishment. It’s really a good thing I like that sort of stuff ;)
CS: Lastly, it takes a team to succeed alone inside the cage. Who would you like to thank?
LM: I want to thank Gracie Barra Katy. My coaches Pat Applegate, Alex Cisne, and Aaron Pena have brought me a long way in the last year. In one year they turned me into the fighter I am, and that’s pretty amazing. Pat especially has put in a TON of time with me. I am so grateful to him and to his family.
LM: My husband has also been a huge support to me through all of this. He’s amazing, and I absolutely would not be here if it weren’t for him.
LM: My team mates at GBK are awesome; the belt, as well as my last four victories, are theirs as much as mine. They are a phenomenal team and I love them like brothers.