I survived being shot twice in the face, now I’m headlining my first UFC show in Las Vegas, says Brit Lerone Murphy

LERONE MURPHY is lucky to be alive, let alone headlining a UFC card in Las Vegas.

But that’s where the Manchester magician finds himself a little less than five years after debuting in mixed martial arts’ top promotion.

Undefeated Brit featherweight Lerone Murphy returns to the octagon this weekend
Undefeated Brit featherweight Lerone Murphy returns to the octagon this weekendCredit: GETTY
The Manchester native tops the bill of UFC Vegas 92
The Manchester native tops the bill of UFC Vegas 92Credit: GETTY
Murphy's journey to a UFC main event included being shot TWICE in the face
Murphy’s journey to a UFC main event included being shot TWICE in the faceCredit: INSTAGRAM@LERONE145
'The Miracle' admits it's surreal to be headlining a UFC card
‘The Miracle’ admits it’s surreal to be headlining a UFC cardCredit: GETTY

The undefeated featherweight tops the bill of UFC Vegas 92 early on Sunday morning at the promotion’s Apex facility, where he’ll lock horns with long-time fan favourite Edson Barboza.

MMA fans would’ve never known the immense talent Murphy has for the sport had he not – by some ‘Miracle’ – survived being shot in the face 11 years ago.

And Murphy – who began his journey in the sport three months after being shot outside of a barbershop – is still coming to terms with where he finds himself after cheating death over a decade ago.

“It feels like a simulation, “Murphy told SunSport. “It just doesn’t feel real.

“Sometimes I just have to pinch myself because it feels like I’m just in a dream.

“It’s strange, it’s night and day the contrast. It’s night and day.

“If I look back ten years now, if somebody said, ‘Where will you be in ten years?’

“It definitely wouldn’t be here anyway. It definitely wouldn’t be here.”

Murphy isn’t in a main event slot against a veteran of the game just by chance, with the UFC brass deeming his five wins in his six outings worthy of a showcase bout against a legend.

The 31-year-old said: “I’ve worked hard for it, though. So there’s no surprise that [I’m here].

“I’ve worked my a**e off. And like you said, I’ve been through a lot.

“I’ve dragged myself out of the trenches and we’re here today.”

Murphy’s journey from the streets of Fallowfield to the Fight Capital of the World is one he hopes inspires the youngsters at Manchester Top Team and others currently not on the straight and narrow.

He said: “The first Mancuian born and bred [to headline a UFC event]. For my team, I’m trying to motivate the younger guys to see the path.

“They see what I do in the gym, they see what kind of work I put in.

“I’m always early, I’m always warming up early and I’m always [the] last to leave.

“They see the work I put in. So I just want to motivate the younger guys to show them that it’s achievable.”

The UFC will return to Murphy’s backyard on July 27 for UFC 304, which is expected to feature both interim heavyweight and welterweight champions Tom Aspinall and Leon Edwards.

And although he’s not looking past Barboza, Murphy can’t help but dream about landing a spot on the card.

Lerone Murphy will face UFC veteran Edson Barboza in his first octagon main event
Lerone Murphy will face UFC veteran Edson Barboza in his first octagon main eventCredit: AP
The Brit admits he faces a tough challenge but is confident he'll have his hand raised
The Brit admits he faces a tough challenge but is confident he’ll have his hand raisedCredit: GETTY

He said of potentially making a quick turnaround to fight on the card: “That’s my dream. To get through Edson Barboza unscathed.

“Have a week out to recover and boom, straight back into fight camp for UFC Manchester.

“The only Mancunian on the roster. I need to be there.

“If not, I’ll come and watch the fights. But I hope to keep on that card.”

Former long-time lightweight Barboza, 38, has looked like his old self in his recent victories over 145lbs prospects Billy Quarantillo and Sodiq Yussuf.

The Brazilian is someone Murphy watched long before he found himself on the UFC’s radar, so he knows full well the dangers the ferocious kicker will pose in their Sin City showdown.

Recalling his reaction to landing the fight, he said: “When that contract came through, it was like, ‘S**t’s real now.

“It’s time to shine and playtime is over. I’m not knocking the guys I’ve fought before, but this is real now.

“This is my biggest test. It’s time to perform, I have to perform. It’s kill or be killed in there.”

I survived being shot twice in the face, now I’m headlining my first UFC show in Las Vegas, says Brit Lerone Murphy | The Sun

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