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This is my time to shine in UFC – Murphy

Briton Lerone Murphy says his UFC Fight Night headline bout against Edson Barboza in Las Vegas on Saturday is his “time to shine”.

Murphy, 32, takes on Brazilian veteran Barboza in a featherweight bout at the UFC Apex.

It is the undefeated Murphy’s first headline fight in six UFC bouts since signing with the promotion in 2019.

“My first thoughts were, ‘wow, this is my opportunity, this is my breakthrough’,” said Murphy.

“It was literally a text from the matchmaker wanting me to fight Barboza – five rounds. I thought, ‘this is my time to shine now’.”

Murphy, who has won 13 of his 14 professional bouts since making his MMA debut in 2016, with his other contest ending as a draw, was supposed to fight Dan Ige in February but was forced to pull out because of injury.

It was the latest in a string of cancelled bouts for Murphy in recent years.

“It’s stop and start; I can’t get no momentum behind me. But everything happens for a reason and that’s the way I see life now, because that’s why it’s been a blessing of things I’ve gone through in the past,” he said.

In 2013 Murphy almost died after being shot in the face outside a barbers in Manchester, and in 2022 he suffered a second near-death experience after being knocked off his bicycle by a car.

“Everything happens for a reason to put you on to a better path, and I feel like now is the time,” he said.

“If I got this fight three years ago, maybe I wouldn’t have been ready, but now I feel ready.”

Barboza, 38, has won 18 of his 29 UFC bouts since his debut in 2010, including his past two fights.

He is 12th in the featherweight rankings, providing Murphy with the chance to secure fights with more established names if he wins this weekend.

“I have to put on a performance, there’s no two ways about it,” said Murphy.

Lerone Murphy following his win over Joshua Culibao in 2023