The Severe Spotlight: Lerone Murphy

UFC 267 was a monumental night. Its not often that you watch an MMA event, that momentum builds, anticipation builds, storylines and emotions build. UFC 267 had all of that. From the curtain jerker to the eventual Glover Teixiera upset, the card was gripping, exciting, emotional. There was a glut of fights, and fighters that could have been picked for this version of Severe Spotlight. For this article I chose the British stand-out, Lerone Murphy.

Lerone Murphy fought fellow European Makwan Amirkhani in only his 4th outing for the promotion. Usually, we see European fighters cut their teeth on European UFC cards against European fighters before being brought over to the US if they fit the bill.

Murphy went from the regional scene to making his debut on short notice at UFC 242, one of the biggest cards of the year in 2019. Fighting not just anyone, but a member of the main events camp Zubaira Tukhugov. Britain isn’t known for its grappling pedigree, but Dagestan certainly is. Lerone showed his quality in the grappling exchanges in one of the toughest tests you can expect on your debut to the big show.

His next fight was against Ricardo Ramos, a vastly underrated fighter. Who he finished, dominantly in the first round.

He walked into the fight on Saturday night nine months after his last outing, and ready to grab the “Hot Prospect” stamp and drive it into his name on the roster. Frankly, he did just that.

Amirkhani is known for his grappling pedigree, a man with 100’s of wrestling matches, many a highlight reel of high-octane slams seen in the cage, and one of the most dangerous d’arce chokes we have seen. His Achilles heel it had seemed, in recent fights was a lack of efficiency in his fighting. That lead to him getting tired and struggling the later the fight went.

Round one began with Lerone Murphy walking out to the middle of the cage in southpaw. This is important, and Amirkhani shot almost as soon as Lerone changed to orthodox. A lovely double leg entry saw Makwan build up and finish with an outside trip alongside the drive. He proceeded to lift the legs of Murphy, to make it as hard as possible for Lerone to gain height on his own hips, one of the first necessities of getting back to your feet.

Murphy, to his credit and one of the most promising signs was his level of calm. Amirkhani is a very storied and dangerous grappler. It would not have been in Murphy’s game plan to be on mat less than 50 seconds into the fight. But here he was, and the calm he showed to look for his underhooks, control the second hands to minimise the damage.

Murphy eventually got back to his feet and had to deal with the Amirkhani bodylock. If you are unable to get your back to the cage, or break the bodylock grip, you need to get elbows inside the bodylock. He did fantastically well to continually work those elbows inside. A mistake from Murphy after he opened the hands of Makwan allowed Makwan to return Murphy to the mat, however Murphy Granby rolled, Makwan gained a leg drag and passed to side control.

Murphy used his frames excellently, allowing him to turtle, from the turtle, he got right back up. Makwan then made a mistake with the mat return, placing his back on the mat before Murphy’s. Murphy did not capitalise and ended on the bottom with an overhook. The round ended with Makwan on top landing a few shots.

The corner work here was fantastic. The corner immediately told Murphy that Makwan was only looking to grapple when Murphy was in an orthodox stance. Murphy strolled back out for the second round in Southpaw. Coming out aggressively landing an over hand right, Makwan looked to feint some shots.

Murphy finished the fight with his first test of his corner’s advice. He circled to his right, he feinted a step left hand, and instead threw the knee. The genius in this sequence is that he had worked the angle on Makwan, so the knee was there and waiting. The feint, should it have been a real switch stance left would have left Murphy over extended and Makwan with little ground to cover for the takedown. However, the knee came instead and landed flush on the side of Makwans head, rendering him unconscious immediately.

That, ladies and gentlemen is very high level striking mixed with superior confidence. It’s a high-risk sales pitch and it paid in a way that high risk bets only can. In vast fruitful dividends.

Murphy is a serious prospect, he will want to close the holes in the ease in which Makwan was able to get him to the mat, but it cant be denied that he knows how to return to his feet and survive on the ground, because standing, he is ruthless.