Ahead of her main card matchup against former strawweight champion Jessica Andrade this weekend in Brazil, former title challenger Lauren Murphy spoke about Taila Santos’ split decision defeat by reigning titlist Valentina Shevchenko – whose last display reinforces the belief she’s not untouchable after finding herself in danger against the Brazilian last summer.
possible Weili rematch the motivator for andrade
Andrade has already outlined her desire to earn a rematch with women’s strawweight champion Zhang Weili, but first the former queen at 115lbs must navigate past perennial contender Murphy as expected in the women’s flyweight division this weekend.
While the 31-year-old has fluctuated between the two weight classes in recent years, she wants to be successful against a durable opponent before testing herself elsewhere later down the line:
“She’s a really tough athlete, very resistant with the blows, got grappling, good jiu-jitsu… I really want another chance to fight Weili, with a victory on Saturday, that could happen.
I’ve fought Valentina, who is very strong as well, but I think I’m something different. All my opponents say I am really strong, I think Lauren will be saying the same thing.”
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One thing both women have in common, is title defeats by Shevchenko in 2021. Andrade was heralded as her toughest test but emphatically stopped inside two full rounds, while Murphy’s loss was a more methodical, destructive beatdown finished deep into R4 via TKO.
‘Nobody wins forever,’ Murphy warns Shevchenko
Murphy may be durable, but there’s no doubting the veteran is an underdog before tomorrow’s main event matchup. Naturally, she’s eyeing a title shot of her own with victory this weekend.
During the UFC 283 media day midweek, she spoke about Santos-Shevchenko before expressing her own renewed belief Valentina isn’t the untouchable champion many once regarded her as.
“I thought Taila won that fight, it definitely showed she’s human but everyone is beatable, everyone has good and bad days. Nobody wins forever in this sport, nobody stays undefeated.
There’s a couple guys that retired on top, but I just don’t think Valentina’s different from any other human being on the planet – she’s not going to win forever. She definitely faced some adversity in her last fight, and I think everybody noticed.”
Although #1 contender Manon Fiorot is currently injured and the champion has recently called for new challengers, Murphy feels she can earn a rematch with time.
However, she was wise not to look past a difficult task against Andrade, with Shevchenko’s next title defence recently scheduled for UFC 285 on March 4 against Alexa Grasso .
UFC 283, AS IT STANDS
First PPV event of 2023 – UFC 283 tomorrow, live from Rio de Janeiro’s Jeunesse Arena
Main card: 3am Sunday
Light-heavyweight: Glover Teixeira vs. Jamahal Hill for the vacant title
Flyweight: Deiveson Figueiredo (c) vs. Brandon Moreno (ic) for the flyweight title
Welterweight: Gilbert Burns  vs. Neil Magny 
Women’s Flyweight: Jessica Andrade [4 at 115lbs, 6 at strawweight] vs. Lauren Murphy 
Light-heavyweight: Paul Craig  vs. Johnny Walker 
Prelims: 1am Sunday
Light-heavyweight: Mauricio Rua vs. Ihor Potieria
Middleweight: Gregory Rodrigues vs. Brunno Fereira
Lightweight: Thiago Moises vs. Melquizael Costa
Welterweight: Mounir Lazzez vs. Gabriel Bonfim
Early prelims: 11pm Saturday
Heavyweight: Shamil Abdurakhimov  vs. Jailton Almeida
Lightweight: Terrance McKinney vs. Ismael Bonfim
Welterweight: Warlley Alves vs. Nicolas Dalby
Women’s Featherweight: Josiane Nunes  vs. Zarah Fairn Dos Santos
Bantamweight: Luan Lacerda vs. Cody Stamann
Bantamweight: Saimon Oliveira vs. Daniel Marcos
Picture source: Getty Images