Lerone Murphy on Gabriel Santos: I believe I’m top 15 level, so I’ve got to beat anyone outside the rankings

LONDON – Lerone Murphy was unfazed by the opponent change at UFC 286.

Originally scheduled to face Nathaniel Wood at Saturday’s pay-per-view event at The O2, Murphy (11-0-1 MMA, 3-0-1 UFC) ended up drawing newcomer Gabriel Santos (10-0 MMA, 0-0 UFC) on short notice.

Santos doesn’t quite hold the name value that Wood does, but for Murphy, winning in impressive fashion is what will lead to a ranked opponent next.

“I believe I’m top 15 level, so if I am, I’ve got to beat anyone outside of the top 15,” Murphy told MMA Junkie. “It’s as simple as that.”


Lerone Murphy grateful for UFC 286 return after nearly dying in bicycle accident: 'I thought it was game over'

UFC 286 pre-event facts: Rafael Fiziev's stats could spell trouble for Justin Gaethje

UFC 267 video: Lerone Murphy hits perfectly timed knee, KOs Makwan Amirkhani

Although Wood announced that he’s out due to injury a month ago, Murphy only received a new opponent one week out of his fight – and the 31-year-old says he’s had to make quite the adjustment.

“It’s a totally different fight from the fight I had before,” Murphy said. “Nathaniel Wood’s more of a boxer, good calf kicker, good jiu-jitsu. This guy is a switch stance, he’s got a lot of tricks. So, it’ll be a fun fight. He comes forward, I just don’t know if he has the experience against top-level athletes like myself. We’ll see, time will tell. You only get tested on the day, right? So, I’m out there to put on a show. I feel good, I feel great, I’ve had a good camp, so let’s see what happens.”

UFC 286 takes place Saturday at The O2 in London. The main card airs on pay-per-view following prelims on ESPNews and early prelims on ESPN+.

For more on the card, visit MMA Junkie’s event hub for UFC 286.

Story originally appeared on MMA Junkie