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Lauren Murphy details health scare that should’ve canceled UFC title fight: ‘I was in no shape to be competing’

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UNIONDALE, N.Y. – If she could do it all over again, Lauren Murphy wouldn’t have made the walk to the octagon for her women’s flyweight title fight with champion Valentina Shevchenko her last time out.

In fact, she wishes she hadn’t shown up to Las Vegas for UFC 266 fight week at all.

“I should have withdrawn from that fight,” Murphy told MMA Junkie and other reporters Wednesday during UFC on ABC 3 media day. “I should not have been in the octagon that night. I should not have been in the hotel that week. I should not have been in the (UFC Performance Institute) with other athletes that week. I 100 percent wish I had withdrawn from that fight.”

Four weeks before her fourth-round TKO loss to Shevchenko last September, Murphy said she contracted clostridioides difficile (C. diff), a bacterial infection of the large intestine that, if not treated properly, could be life-threatening. Murphy said she was advised that she could power through by taking probiotics. Not wanting to lose out on her first UFC title shot, the 38-year-old Murphy continued on with her training camp.

By the time she got to fight week, Murphy said she was “very, very weak,” “very drained mentally and physically,” and she was “in no shape to be competing.” She called the ordeal “one of the worst things I’ve ever been through.”

“I thought that showing up to the fight was the most important thing,” Murphy said. “‘Just get to the fight, just get to the fight, don’t miss your chance.’ And that’s not true. That was a big mistake. …

“When I fought Valentina, physically I was not in a place where I could compete at all, much less at my best. It was a very poor performance. I learned that you don’t show up to fights unable to compete. The most important thing is the performance. The most important thing is my health.”

That’s why Murphy took her recent experience with COVID-19 so seriously. Murphy tested positive prior to UFC 276 earlier this month, when she and Miesha Tate originally were scheduled to meet. Murphy said she put everyone around her at risk by competing with C. diff last September, and she wasn’t about to do that again with COVID, forcing her to withdraw.

Not pushing herself to fight two weeks ago was a product of listening to the signs.

“This is my opportunity to show the universe and show myself that I’ve learned those lessons, and I’m gonna live those lessons,” said Murphy, who switched camps after the loss to Shevchenko. “I’m not gonna show up to a fight half-dead ever again.”

Murphy, who was on a five-fight winning streak prior to the Shevchenko fight, said she’s made some drastic life changes since her C. diff diagnosis, including what she eats to manage the situation with the help of a dietician. Compared to UFC 266, Murphy feels “like a different person.”

“I’m much leaner, I’m stronger, I’m faster, I’m more present, I’m much happier,” Murphy said.

And she loves the opportunity in front of her against Tate.

“She’s a former champion and a UFC legend and a superstar,” Murphy said. “When I go out there and beat her, and I have a phenomenal performance, I’m gonna show everybody what I learned from my last fight and how much I’ve grown, that I’m a contender in this division and that was just my first title shot, but it’s not gonna be my last. I’m excited to show that you can knock me down, but you can never keep me down, and I’m always gonna come back better.”

For more on the card, visit MMA Junkie’s event hub for UFC on ABC 3.