Would former Invicta FC flyweight champ Barb Honchak be able to handle the gritty UFC vet Lauren Murphy at the TUF 26 Finale on Friday?
One of the least expected, yet nevertheless anticipated bouts at the TUF 26 Finale in Las Vegas Friday was Lauren Murphy vs. Barb Honchak. The bout came together after Sijara Eubanks was forced to seek medical attention after a bad weight cut. As Eubanks defeated Roxanne Modafferi to make it to the main event, it was Roxanne getting the nod to step into the title fight atop the card.
That left Modafferi’s original TUF 26 Finale opponent Honchak without a dance partner. However, Lauren Murphy, who also had an opponent fall through at the finale, was ready with her weight on point. That led to a tantalizing match-up between Murphy and Honchak, two of the grittiest fighters on the show this past season.
Both fighters were quick to meet in the center of the octagon, exchanging strikes and going back and forth as they moved around the octagon. Murphy landed a big punch that Honchak walked through as the two continued to exchange; Honchak started to work in the leg kicks, eventually landing a big right hand. Murphy fired back and Honchak was up to the task as both fighters circled each other, throwing punch after punch and absorbing strikes to end the round.
The start of the second kept up the pace of the first, with both fighters again quick to engage in the middle of the octagon. Murphy’s face began to show damage from the previous round. Unfazed she continued to push the fight. Honchak landed a big overhand right, hurting Murphy, but Lauren Murphy was quick to recover and fired back. Honchak started to land the right overhand counter on Murphy, who remained undeterred and fired back. Honchak went to throwing kicks again until Murphy shot in for a takedown that drove Honchak into the cage. There, Murphy got her to the ground and took her back. Honchak got back to her feet with Murphy still on her back, working for an arm, eventually taking her back down with Honchak landing on top to end the round.
The final round, like the previous, saw both fighters come out quick to engage, with Honchak working the inside leg kick and overhand right. Murphy caught a body kick and quickly took Honchak to the ground, landing in full guard. From there, Murphy attempted to work the ground and pound until Honchak exploded for an armbar that Murphy defended. Barb quickly switched to a triangle that Murphy again defended; this caused Honchak to switch back to the armbar and again Murphy was able to defend. She then worked her way onto Honchak’s back, locking in a body triangle to end the round. It would go to the judges, two of whom gave Lauren Murphy the nod.
An emotional Murphy was looking for a title shot afterwards, speaking to Daniel Cormier post-fight (who humorously called her Barb in a flub during the interview).
Lauren Murphy def. Barb Honchak by split decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28)