Undefeated Murphy (11-0-1 MMA, 3-0-1 UFC) will make his return to the octagon to meet Gabriel Santos (10-0 MMA, 0-0 UFC) Saturday at The O2. For the British featherweight standout, it’ll be his first fight in nearly 18 months, a layoff that was extended by yet another brush with death.
Last May, Murphy was the victim in a terrifying accident when a car collided with him as he rode his bike. Murphy suffered a serious head injury in which he nearly bled out. Luckily – or perhaps miraculously – medics quickly arrived on the scene and rushed Murphy to the hospital. He survived.
And now he’s just thankful to be on the cusp of stepping back into the octagon to compete.
“I thought it was game over. I didn’t think I’d be back here anyway, especially not so soon,” Murphy told MMA Junkie and other reporters. “Doctors were saying all sorts of stuff like whatever, like fighting’s not good now and what not. It was heartbreaking at the time, but I’ve got good people around me, good friends, and I just stayed on course.”
Murphy defied death for a second time in his life, almost a decade after he was shot in the face and neck as he left a barbershop in 2013.
Unsurprisingly, dodging death for a second time has Murphy looking at things differently.
“I’ve got a purpose. I’ve got a bigger purpose in life, I feel, and that’s what pushes me on,” Murphy said. “I feel like I’m here to do something big.”
Murphy, who’s on a three-fight winning streak after a draw in his UFC debut in 2019, had been set for a higher-profile fight against former Cage Warriors champion Nathaniel Wood until Wood was forced to withdraw last month after he sliced his knee in training. Even with the amount of time before UFC 286, Murphy said he didn’t find out about Santos as his replacement opponent until nine days ago.
Given what he’s endured just to make it to UFC 286, Murphy isn’t bothered by the situation.
“I’m just happy to fight,” Murphy said. “Anybody they would’ve given me, I would’ve taken the fight. I’m just dying to get back in there. …
“Until I get in the cage, then that’s when I’ll be happy.”
For more on the card, visit MMA Junkie’s event hub for UFC 286.