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UFC Fight Night results, highlights: Lerone Murphy shows grit in big win against Edson Barboza

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The UFC featherweight division has a new contender. Lerone Murphy showed everything required of a fighter worth watching in the 145-pound division in a stellar performance against veteran striker Edson Barboza at UFC Fight Night in Las Vegas on Saturday.

Murphy executed a thoughtful game plan against a fighter who had been competing since before Murphy started training mixed martial arts. Murphy overwhelmed Barboza by pressuring him back, cutting off escapes, keeping the fight in boxing range and mixing in takedowns to keep Barboza guessing. Murphy beat the brakes off Barboza with viable 10-8 performances in Rounds 2 and 3. Barboza — who fought the likes of Khabib Nurmagomedov, Justin Gaethje, Tony Ferguson and Anthony Pettis — survived 25 minutes but lost 49-46, 50-45, 50-45 on the scorecards.

“I’ve had the hardest road out here and I’ve put in the work and continued to climb,” Murphy said in his post-fight interview. “I’m not really bothered about the rankings. I just want to get to that title. I just took out a legend. Edson Barboza was on a two-fight winning streak. I deserve the recognition now to be with the best of the best. I just showed my worth. 

“I’m changing my nickname back to ‘The Iceman’ because there is nothing miraculous about this,” Murphy continued, dropping his ‘Miracle’ moniker. “I’m meant to be here. I’m going to be the champion. Simple.”

Murphy deserves equal credit for his toughness. Barboza landed an upkick in the final seconds of Round 1 that nearly knocked out the Manchester-based fighter. Barboza also landed a strike in Round 4 that appeared to potentially break Murphy’s nose.

Murphy called for a Top 10 featherweight fighter next. That appears to be a real possibility. Murphy entered the UFC Apex on Saturday unranked in the UFC’s official featherweight Top 15 but left with a victory over the No. 12 ranked contender. Murphy improved to 14-0-1 while Barboza dropped to 24-12.

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