Lerone Murphy calls out Nathaniel Wood after UFC 286, says he’s running from fight

LONDON – Lerone Murphy beat Gabriel Santos with a split decision Saturday on the preliminary card at UFC 286 at The O2 in London.

Take a look inside the fight with Murphy, who returned from a layoff of nearly 18 months for the first split decision win of his career.

Lerone Murphy vs. Gabriel Santos

Mar 18, 2023; London, UNITED KINGDOM; Lerone Murphy (red gloves) fights Gabriel Santos (blue gloves) during UFC 286 at O2 Arena. Mandatory Credit: Per Haljestam-USA TODAY Sports

Result: Lerone Murphy def. Gabriel Santos via split decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28)
Updated records: Murphy (12-0-1 MMA, 4-0-1 UFC), Santos (10-1 MMA, 0-1 UFC)
Key stat: Santos landed five takedowns, but came up short with two of the three judges.

Murphy on the fight's key moment

Mar 18, 2023; London, UNITED KINGDOM; Lerone Murphy (right) bumps heads with Gabriel Santos during UFC 286 at O2 Arena. Mandatory Credit: Per Haljestam-USA TODAY Sports

“I loved every minute of it. When we squared up, it was like, boom. Yes – let’s go. This kid’s here for war. I knew it was going to be like that. I saw it in him from the weigh-ins. It was like I was looking at a younger me. I was up for it. I loved every second of it. That’s what I needed and that’s what’s going to build me to be a champion – things like that.”

Murphy on making improvements

Mar 18, 2023; London, UNITED KINGDOM; Lerone Murphy (red gloves) fights Gabriel Santos (blue gloves) during UFC 286 at O2 Arena. Mandatory Credit: Per Haljestam-USA TODAY Sports

“Coming back from a year off, a hard year, I had to get through a lot mentally by myself – get past a lot of things. And then to come back to a solid fire like that, overcome against a 12-0 former champion, it just shows what I’ve got in myself. I know I’m 100 times better than that. I have to show it, though. And the better the opponent, the better I get.”

Murphy on what he wants next

Sep 3, 2022; Paris, FRANCE; Nathaniel Wood (blue gloves) during his fight against Charles Jourdain during UFC Fight Night at Accor Arena. Mandatory Credit: Per Haljestam-USA TODAY Sports

“Where’s Nathaniel Wood? Is he under here? Because he’s running from me. The next U.K. card in July or whenever it is, if I don’t get a number next to my name, give me Nathaniel Wood and I’ll break Nathaniel Wood. … I’m a fighter. He’s a fighter. He thinks he’s better than me. I know I’m better than him. So let’s put on a show for the fans. I’m sure the fans would love to see that in the U.K. – main card, co-main, whatever you want to want to do. But look, I’m 5-0 UFC, basically, and I believe I deserve my shot.”

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To hear more from Murphy, check out the video of the full post-fight interview above.

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

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Story originally appeared on MMA Junkie