Here is part 2 of the in-depth interview with the Inspiring Lauren Murphy where we talk about finding Jiu Jitsu, MMA, New Addictions, The love of her life, Invicta, UFC and the future…
EB.You didn’t grow up playing any sports, bar the odd few Karate lessons. It was often said how much of a natural you are, and how strong you are in the sport. How did it feel when people started believing in you?
LM.When I first said I wanted to fight and started going to MMA classes, they really were not that accepting of me. The guys that were there at the time were prima donnas, they didn’t really want to take any time with me. After a few months, my coach Pat Applegate took over the MMA team. He treated everybody as equal. That’s why I’m so ‘ride or die’ with Pat, because he was the first guy to come along and believe in me and make me work hard. He always told me, “If you work hard, you can achieve anything”. It didn’t matter to him that I was a female, he didn’t care if I was any good, he just made sure that I worked hard, and because of that, now I have this great work ethic. At first, the guys would make comments… just girl comments in general, say degrading things, really shitty stuff…. Pat put an end to all of that, he didn’t put up with any of that in his classes at all. He made a really great team out of all new guys. All those assholes left, because they didn’t want to stick around anymore, if they couldn’t be the centre of attention and catered to. Everyone who stuck around with Pat worked real hard, became a team and family.
EB.It was from this point that you started to believe, not only you could be an athlete but an elite athlete also, so training became your new ‘addiction’. You made your Pro debut on June 9th 2010 against Kloiah Wayland which last 17seconds and you won via TKO (Punches), how did that feel to know all that self-belief had finally paid off?
LM. It was just a relief as you always want to win your first fight. I didn’t want to be that guy that is 0-1 you know, so when I went out there to fight I remember being so terrified. I really looked up to Cris Cyborg at the time (and I still do), she was my favourite athlete, so I thought, “I’m just going to do what she does, and start throwing punches and never stop”, and it was so sloppy and of course didn’t look anything like Cyborg (laughs). I was just super out there, mostly, I was a lot bigger than that girl and just frantic, so it was a crappy fight but I was glad to win.
EB.From then on you had another 4 fights, picking up wins via TKO (Punches) including a brutal 1st round TKO (Elbows) against Jennifer Scott on Legacy Fighting Championship 18, that in itself is an impressive CV and none of those fights made it too the 3rd round, how did that feel?
LM.I liked it. I didn’t really realize I had a record like that until after I fought Jennifer Scott, and people were talking about how none of my fights had gone past the 2nd round. I was like, “Oh… I guess they haven’t… uh that’s pretty cool”(smiles), but to me, I knew I had fought some pretty tough girls but I hadn’t fought anybody known, so I was wondering how I would do against more experienced competition.
EB. On April 5th you faced the veteran Kaitlin Young on 3 weeks short notice for the all-female promotion Invicta FC. This was to be your biggest test to date for yourself; what prompted you to take this opportunity?
LM. I had just gotten home from the Jennifer Scott fight, and Janet Martin had called me saying to stay ready, just in case there were any injuries on that card. I said, “Okay, well I hope there are no injuries because they are all beasts!” (laughs) But there was an injury with Amanda Nunes, so they asked, ‘Do you want to fight Kaitlin Young?’ Of course I was scared, but it was so weird…There was something just telling me to take this fight, it was almost as if someone was sitting right next to me saying in my ear ‘take this fight’. Normally my coaches are very anti-short notice fights, they don’t like them at all, but in this case we just took it. I don’t know why, I just had a feeling it was going to work out. My manager thought it was a good idea. We knew I could win it if I worked real hard and kept my mind clear. I got the call and left the next day. I had a two week training camp. A week before the fight you’re supposed to slow down, but I was in real good shape, it wasn’t like I had just got off the couch, so it was all good.
EB. You won the fight via UD, the first of your career to of gone the distance and a great battle by both, how did it feel getting your hand raised for the first time in that way in your career?
LM. I was kind of relieved because everybody else wondered if my cardio was going to be any good, and I wondered the same thing. What really made that fight memorable for me was that Kaitlin won the 1st round, handily. I mean, she had me mounted, she took my back, she had me in all these positions you know, and nobody had really ever done that to me before. I had never been in such a shitty position before in a fight, and it was nice to know I can fight through that, and I’m not going to mentally break. It was a really good experience for me to lose the first round and come back and win the next two.
EB. How is it working with a great partnership with Invicta FC? Can you tell me what it is like fighting for a great organisation; Shannon Knapp and former Match Maker Janet Martin?
LM. They’re awesome! I have never fought for a promotion that have looked after their fighters so well. Shannon Knapp, you can just tell she has the best interest in the fighters. She loves her athletes, and she treats all of us with so much respect. A lot of times with MMA, people will try and screw you over: Promoters looking out for themselves, managers looking out for themselves, even sponsors try to get free advertising and get you to do stuff for them for free, and then try not to pay you. You always have to watch your back. You don’t really have many friends in MMA unless it’s your own team, but Shannon is not like that at all, she really wants the best for all of us. She wants us to succeed, and she believes in all of us equally. She does not care about making stars, she gives us all challenging fair fights. She’s not trying to necessary to build anyone up, she lets us build ourselves up.
EB. Tell me about Joe; How Joe proposed to you; The whole story.
LM. Joe and I met at Gracie Barra in Alaska, in 2010. I was getting ready for my second fight, and one of his first days at MMA practice, we ended up sparring together. He had wrestled for a long time, but had very little striking experience, and I had never wrestled once in my life, all I had ever done really was box for a few months and done jiu jitsu. So he was in his wrestler’s stance the whole time we were sparring, and was trying to shoot on me, because our coach wanted me to learn to sprawl, I think. I didn’t know what the hell he was doing, because I’d never seen anyone wrestle before. I ended up poking him in the eye, which gave him a black eye. I felt horrible! We’ve been friends ever since (Smiling).
We’d hang out a lot with the team and go out after practice with everyone to eat, or out on the weekends. I partied a lot with some of the other guys and Joe would kind of take care of all of us, drive us around, make sure we got home safe, all that. We talked a lot and always had a great time. He’s hilarious and sweet and honest and kind, he was very responsible and kind of the guy everyone looked up to. I just fell in love with him. At some point he started falling for me too, the way soul mates do. I was partying a lot back then, basically drinking my life away, and I knew if I wanted to be with a guy like him, I had to clean up my act. So I did. I changed my evil ways, quit drinking and taking pills, and started to try to take my life seriously. And when I did that, I think that’s when things really took off for us. When he was sent to Florida with the Air Force, I moved with him. I couldn’t imagine living my life without him. So we started this life in Florida together and I think we just knew we were meant for each other.
He proposed to me after Invicta 6, at the post fight presser. It was so surreal. I had Cyborg sitting next to me (she’s always been one of my favourite fighters), Tito Ortiz is there, I had just won a war with the toughest opponent of my fight career, and the man of my dreams is proposing to me, very publicly and very romantically. It was very….Joe. Of course he would propose in a way that made not just me, but pretty much everyone in the room melt. That’s one of the things I love about him so much.
We were married on the beach in a small ceremony. It was pretty spur of the moment. He proposed, we went home, and a day or two later, we both figured, “why wait?” We knew we wanted to be married. And there’s a beach maybe 30 minutes away from our house that we both really love, it’s a great beach with a fun little restaurant nearby. So we went there and just had a few friends and a great time. It was very simple and very perfect. And I am now the happiest woman on the planet.
EB. Did you consider going for the TUF 18 try outs when you heard they were having females in the 135llb division?
LM. I did for a minute. It sounded very appealing, the kind of insta-fame that comes with doing a show like that. But after talking to my manager and coaches, we decided it wouldn’t be best for me or my career. I love my coaches and my team; we are all very tight knit. I don’t want to go anywhere else or train under anyone else. My team loves me too, and we figured I could make more progress as a fighter much faster if I stayed with my team, than if I went to TUF try outs.
EB. If so did you discuss this with Shannon Knapp at all and what was her response or are you contractually obliged by Invicta so you could not go and try out (although Jessamyn Duke tried out) If that was the case how did you personally feel as the UFC is seen as a big opportunity and I would imagine it is where any fighter would want to be especially now that there is a 135lb division?
LM. My manager and I did talk to Shannon and Janet about it. Shannon released a statement saying anyone from Invicta could go try out- Raquel Pennington was also signed to Invicta, I believe, as were a few other girls, Shayna Baszler as well as Jessamyn Duke. Shannon has always been awesome like that- she wants to see us succeed and get a lot of opportunities to further our careers. She would never stand in the way of anyone trying to move on to something huge like the UFC. I think some fighters are so happy in Invicta; they have turned down UFC offers. It doesn’t surprise me at all. Invicta treats us like queens.
EB. How are you feeling about facing Miriam ‘The Queen of Mean’ Nakamoto for the Invicta FC Bantamweight Title?
LM. I am excited about it. Of course I am nervous, but most days I just feel very excited. It’s awesome to compete with one of the best.
It’s amazing, I mean who would of thought, I just took a fight for the fun of it back in 2010 and I wasn’t going to do anything with it, now here I am fighting for one of the biggest organisations in the world for a title shot its crazy, Miriam is a super tough girl, and I’ve never been more afraid of an opponent than I am of her, she is really brining a lot of weapons to this fight that I am going to have to be on my very best A game if I’m to win this fight.
EB. Do you know a lot about your opponent or is it a case that you concentrate on your fight and game plan and your teams does the ‘research work’ on your opponent or are you a fighter that likes to study their opponent themselves?
LM. I do watch tape on my opponent, usually with my coaches. We talk about what we see, and what and why they do what they do, what they’re good at, where they are weak, etc. I watch it mostly so I can visualize what it will be like to fight her, so when I get in the cage, it’s like I’ve already fought her a thousand times. My coaches watch and analyse and then tell me what to do.
EB. How are you expecting this fight to go?
LM. I don’t really care where the fight goes honestly, I just like to fight, go out there have a good time, and hopefully come out with the win, Miriam I think has some really good training partners, coming from a great camp as well there isn’t going to be that many holes in her game for me to exploit but I’m just going to have to go out there and see who is better that night really.
EB. Me being a fan of the series ‘Fight Girls back in 2009’ I saw Miriam on that TV show back then, did you watch this series which also featured new Invicta signee Felice Herrig at all? If so is this something you would like to do as I recall Shannon Knapp stated that she will be doing her own version of a reality show ‘Invicta behind the scenes, training etc.’?
LM. I haven’t watched that show, but ever since it was agreed that Miriam and I would fight, people keep bringing it up. I would watch it but I don’t really have enough time in camp to watch TV shows. I’d be down for a reality show, depending on what they wanted. I have heard of shows that really screwed over the participants, especially where it concerns females, but I know Shannon Knapp wouldn’t do that.
EB. It is a great opportunity to be fighting for Invicta’s first ever Bantamweight title on December 7th, how much does this mean to you after everything, you, as a person has been through?
LM. It’s an honour, and it’s very humbling. I never thought I would be here. That’s a very surreal feeling. I also think, when people talk about what I’ve been through….well, there are people out there that have been through far worse, and done far more with their lives than I have, so I try to keep all that in perspective.
EB. The future is that to reach the UFC and fight for the UFC? Is that your ultimate goal now that you know you are good enough and people believe in you?
LM. My ultimate goal is to be the best I can be every day. I do think that would involve taking my fight career as far as I can in the time I have. If that includes the UFC, then that’s great. Mostly I believe really strongly that God has a plan for me, and I really just want to be a part of it. Whatever he has laid out for me, I’m all for it. That may mean the UFC, and it may not. I guess only time will tell.
EB. You went to school to re-educate yourself, what did you study in? What was your chosen career?
LM. I went to nursing school for a long time. I got kicked out for not showing up, because I was in jail one morning. So that was lame. I eventually decided to go back, but I don’t think nursing appeals to me so much. I want to work with athletes. I love the gym atmosphere and family setting, the close-knit relationships, and the changes you see happen in a gym. So I want to spend my career in a place like that, if possible. So I am back in school now trying to complete a Bachelor’s Degree in exercise science. I chose it because when I transferred my credits from nursing school, it was the degree I was closest to.
EB. How do you feel about the news of Janet Martin, as she was a big part of Invicta and how far WMMA has come today within the promotion Invicta, and females being highlighted in WMMA?
LM. I am sad for Janet. I don’t know the whole story, or what happened, really, so I can’t say too much. I can say that, I have been the person before that has done terrible things to good people, and that I did it because I was sick in my soul and had lost my way. So on a good day I have compassion for people that are just like I was: sick in their souls and doing shitty things to people who don’t deserve it. When people are happy and healthy and able to love, they generally don’t act like that towards others. So I hope Janet finds her way.
I would personally like to thank Lauren for all her time given to me; to allow me to get her story out there, by going above and beyond the call of duties to what an athlete would do for an interview. Thank you.
This Interview took place before Lauren’s fight with Miriam Nakamoto which was on December 7th 2013.
Lauren defeated Miriam in the 4th round via T.K.O.
Miriam suffered a knee injury late in the 3rd round, as a result of Lauren’s takedown, but continued on and came out for the 4th round before her knee gave out at 0.23 seconds of the 4th round.
Lauren Murphy is now Invicta’s first ever inaugural Bantamweight Title Belt Winner.
Below is a link for a new documentary being made on the life of this inspiring athlete please take a look:
If you missed any of the awesome fights from Invicta 7 including Lauren’s, below is the full link:
You can also follow Lauren on Twitter: https://twitter.com/LaurenMurphyMMA
Official Facebook Fan Page: http://www.facebook.com/LaurenMurphyMMA
Lauren has some great sponsors in American Knockout Wear, they help her through her fight camps and have supported her so much, please go check them out at www.akowear.com and buy yourself a Lauren Murphy T-Shirt. Part of the proceeds go to a really cool charity that supports a program called KIPP (Knowledge Is Power Program).
If you missed part 1 of my interview you can catch it here http://t.co/2XXvcbZoqM
Photo Credits: Lauren Murphy, Jade Kimmel for Women’s MMA round up, Brian McNulty-American Knockout Wear