Two fights into his UFC career, and English featherweight Lerone Murphy has already turned some heads.
The undefeated Murphy (9-0-1) fought to a draw with Zubaira Tukhugov, part of Khabib Nurmagomedov’s inner circle, in his debut. He followed that up with a first-round TKO victory over Ricardo Ramos in his sophomore outing.
Big things are now expected, in other words. And he’ll have a chance to live up to expectations this Wednesday, as Murphy once again returns to Abu Dhabi, this time to take on Douglas D’Silva Andrade at UFC Fight Island 8.
Coincidentally, all of Murphy’s UFC fights have come in Abu Dhabi. His debut came at UFC 242, prior to the pandemic. He next appeared at UFC Fight Island 1 last July, with the coronavirus raging. Now, he returns to familiar territory.
“It’s just prepared me, I know what to expect coming over here with the quarantines and stuff like that. Nothing’s new to me now,” he noted of his familiarity with the region.
For some undefeated fighters, the pressure ticks upward the longer the win streak goes. On that front, Murphy told Cageside Press during a virtual media day to promote the UFC Fight Island 8 card that “for me, you just take every fight as it comes. I want to win every fight. Every fight’s a big fight. I’m not really worried about records, I just go in there and do me.”
Andrade will be the Brit’s most experienced opponent to date, and perhaps the biggest threat to that undefeated record. “He’s a solid opponent. He’s had 30 pro fights, which is nearly three times the amount I’ve had,” observed Murphy. “He’s been in there with some of the best guys — Petr Yan, Rob Font, all them guys are like top five fighters.”
“I know it’s going to be a tough fight, but we’ve trained hard and we’re ready to go,” Murphy added. He’s also ready for the fans to be back. Several thousand, socially distanced inside the Etihad Arena, will attend each of January’s three events on Fight Island. “I’m excited for it. It feels like I’ve not fought in front of the fans for ten years or something,” Murphy admitted.
As a newcomer to the UFC who made quite the impression, Murphy has an idea of where he wants his career to go. But setting goals has been difficult. “I’ve set up goals, but obviously as the world’s going at the minute, you can’t really predict anything,” he stated. “But in a perfect world, I want to have four fights this year, and hopefully push for the top 15 back end of the year.”
Earlier during the UFC Fight Island 8 virtual media day, opponent Andrade had seemed almost disrespected by having a fresh face like Lerone Murphy booked opposite him. “We’ll see, won’t we, on fight night,” Murphy responded. “I believe my skill set matches up well. So we’ll see on fight night. I’ve gone into the last two fights as the underdog as well, so we’ll see.”
UFC Fight Island 8 takes place Wednesday, January 20 at the Etihad Arena in Abu Dhabi. The main card airs on ESPN (TSN in Canada) starting at 12PM ET.