Michael Murphy of Powell River is making a name for himself on both coasts of the nation in the world of Mixed Martial Arts (MMA).
Murphy, 20, a student at Saint Mary’s University in Halifax, Nova Scotia, has won his first two professional fights, both this year, making him undefeated in both his amateur and pro career. In his first fight on January 29 in Moncton, New Brunswick, Murphy took his opponent out with a technical knockout 23 seconds into the first round. On February 19, this time in Halifax, Murphy won by knockout, 53 seconds into the first round. In his pro career Murphy has never gone past a minute.
At nine years old Murphy took up karate in Powell River and within seven years in the sport had earned his black belt. By the time he had finished his karate training MMA and, in particular, Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) saw a jump in popularity and a move to the mainstream. The very first fight that Murphy watched hooked him and he knew that he wanted to get involved in the sport.
Without any MMA training available in Powell River, Murphy started to teach himself the basics by reading books, watching fights and learning the fundamentals of other forms of martial arts. Still just starting high school, he studied jiu-jitsu and kickboxing and started training with friends in town. He took judo lessons in town and got his green belt in three years. Toward the end of high school Murphy started training with Michael Hill, Raphael Vecsey and Kaluhea Laureta, other young hopefuls who have since moved on in the sport.
Murphy fought in his first amateur fight just outside Victoria in June 2008, on the same card with Laureta. In under two minutes of the first round Murphy had his first amateur win and a new-found addiction to the sport.
“It was pretty awesome,” said Murphy. “Having just trained for it pretty much by myself and with some friends and be able to win the fight...That was a really great experience.”
Murphy moved to Halifax for school in 2008 and started training with Titans MMA. He won two amateur fights in Moncton and another back in Cumberland, BC, before the two pro victories this year.
Murphy said he’s won his siblings over about his fighting but he’s still working on his parents who don’t like to see him get hurt or see him hurt anybody else. He has one year left at Saint Mary’s University where he is working on an honours in political science and a major in philosophy, which along with training leaves him without much of a social life. He hopes to go on to do his masters in political science at Dalhousie University and to keep fighting out east.
“People are kind of surprised when at school they find out that I’m a fighter, because I’m taking philosophy and stuff,” said Murphy. “And then at the gym they’re surprised when they find out I’m taking philosophy. I like to balance it out.”
Murphy has three or four fights lined up tentatively in the Maritimes and plans to keep on with the sport and maybe go for a title shot out east. He hopes to eventually get some bouts in Quebec or Alberta, where the sport is bigger, and then maybe try to get into UFC.
“Things are coming along, it’s looking good,” said Murphy. “It’s not going to happen fast, it’s going to take years but it’s a goal I’ve had since I first discovered it and I’m going to keep pursuing it.”