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NEW FEATURE – Bring the Pain: Q&A with heavyweight prospect Jon Murphy

“Bring the Pain” is a new feature on Five Ounces of Pain that will be a regular series featuring profiles and interviews with top fight prospects that are flying under the radar that I believe will be major players on the MMA scene in short order.

Remember back in the day when MTV used to spotlight new bands that they believed were about to break out? Well, my vision for “Bring the Pain” is similar.

My hope is that when you start hearing from these guys on a mainstream level that and “Bring the Pain” will either be the first place you heard about the fighter or at least a place where you got to learn a lot more.

The first fighter I selected for this new feature is 30-year old heavyweight prospect Jon Murphy. Murphy is a bruiser from Minersville, PA that I initially became familiar with because of his ties to the local fight scene in the New Jersey area. I became aware of Jon while I trained at the MFS-affiliate in Philly when several guys from the school that were fighting on the same cards would come back raving about him.

Jon is unique for the heavyweight division in that he brings more athleticism than your typical heavyweight fighter. But you have to be a good athlete in order to go to Syracuse on a football scholarship as a middle linebacker.

Murphy utilized his outstanding strength, speed, quickness and agility to build a 3-0 record in his first three fights. His third win was especially impressive, as he defeated former UFC fighter Sherman Pendergarst and claimed the Extreme Challenge Northeast Heavyweight Title by recording a TKO at 2:16 of round one during EC 75 in Trenton, NJ this past March.

Soon after the win over Pendergarst, Murphy agreed to participate in a heavyweight tournament at Extreme Challenge 76. It was an eight day turnaround after the Pendergarst win but the promise of a Pride contract for the winner was too much to pass up. He ended up facing current UFC fighter Houston Alexander in the opening round and suffered the first loss of his amateur and pro MMA career following a knockout at 0:56 of round one.

Murphy then suffered his second loss on a King of the Cage card , losing a two round unanimous decision to Chase Gormley in April.

Coming off two consecutive losses, Murphy is poised for a comeback. Bouncing back successfully is nothing he hasn’t done before, as Murphy is ten months clean and sober after seeking treatment for alcoholism late last year.

He’ll look to get back to his winning ways on August 25 against undefeated heavyweight prospect Tony Bonello in Vicksburg, Mississippi. It will mark the first time Murphy has fought on live national television, as the card will be televised on Showtime as EliteXC’s second-ever ShoXC: Elite Challenger Series event.

Following a recent training session in Philadelphia in preparation for Bonello, Murphy took time out to do an interview with me…

Sam Caplan: You went to the University of Syracuse on a football scholarship. Were you there at the same time as Donovan McNabb?

Jon Murphy: Yes I was.

Q: Did you have a chance to get to know McNabb as a person?

JM: I got to know him reasonably well for the short period of time that I was at Syracuse. He’s a real personable guy and was very open, no matter who you were. Right away he was cool. He’s a prankster; he was always smiling. During the time I was there I didn’t notice a time when he wasn’t smiling. He’s a hard worker, a true gentleman, and a class act.

He was Mr. Syracuse when I was up there. Everybody was talking about Donovan McNabb, and not necessarily because of his athletic ability — which was a huge part of it — but just the fact that he’s a good person. He’s a fun person to be around and a very likable guy. From the moment I met him I knew he was a good person to be around.

Q: I know you’re from PA, are you an Eagles fan?

JM: I’m an Eagles fan. The fact that Donovan went there made me more of an Eagles fan. I was a fan during the days of Andre Waters, Randall Cunningham and Reggie White. I’m actually a Chicago Bears fan by heart but Donovan made me more of a fan of the Eagles. So I do follow the Eagles now more than I ever have.

Q: Have you kept in touch with him at all? Does he know what you’re up to these days?

JM: No, I haven’t. I would love to get to meet up again with him some time and just say “what’s up.” Once I left Syracuse that was the last contact I had with him. Would he know me if we met up again? I would venture to say that yeah, he would probably remember me and we’d probably be able to kick it off again and greet each other with a handshake and a smile.

Q: Is it true that you took a break from MMA to do some pro boxing?

JM: Yes, I did. I took a break from MMA and I had an injury a week out before my fight — actually nine days before my first professional fight was supposed to happen. I injured my back and it put me out. I was almost crippled as my back was all contorted and all out of place. I could barely stand up let alone throw a punch. That was back in 2005, my first fight was going to be in September of that year. So I took a little bit of a break and I had fought Golden Gloves prior to that and was 10-1 as an amateur.

I’m a licensed professional boxer in the state of Pennsylvania but I’ve never had a pro fight. I’d still like to box professionally and I’ll probably do so later this year if contractual obligations will allow it.

Q: Your next fight will be for Showtime on Aug. 25 against Tony Bonello in Vicksburg, Miss. Have you signed a contract with Pro Elite?

JM: Yes I have. I’ve signed a contract with Pro Elite/EliteXC.

Q: Is it a multi-fight deal?

JM: Yes, it’s a three fight deal.

Q: Do you have other fights already lined up for after ShoXC?

JM: I’ve had two opponents pull out on me so I don’t know who my opponent is but I’ll be fighting September 14 in Mexico City for Extreme Combat in the Cage, a promotion run by Ed Hsu and another group. First and foremost though I’m looking forward to the fight with Bonello.

Q: My understanding is that you’ve spent some time recently at the Fight Factory in Philly where Eddie Alvarez trains and at the MFS Philly affiliate where guys like Aaron Miesner and Matt Makowski train. Are you looking at changing camps?

JM: I’m just looking for extra training right now. I have a great camp with the Anthracite Combat Club. I have a camp where more than just the physical side of training is stressed. I have a lot of friends at Anthracite and guys that I’m close enough to that I consider them brothers. I don’t plan on leaving them but it’s also understood that we’re in an area where heavyweights aren’t that prevalent. We’re a rare breed up there (Minersville, PA) and my trainer understands that I need to go other places.

Q: For the benefit of novice fans out there who might not be familiar with you, can you name a fighter whose style you feel is similar to yours?

JM: I think my style is unique but there are some fighters out there I might be comparable to. Andrei Arlovski comes to mind but I’m not going to play the dance and boxing game. I mean, I do like to box but I’m not going to go in there and dance for three rounds. If I see an opportunity to take the fight to the ground then I’ll try to go to the ground and finish my opponent there. So I feel that there are some similarities as far as the athletic ability and the speed and quickness but I like to think I’m going to push — and I’m not saying that he doesn’t — Andrei is a great fighter but it seems like he’s changed his gameplan the last few fights and his aggressiveness is not there. I would like to say that I’m like Andrei Arlovski with a lot more aggression.

Q: You hold a win over UFC veteran Sherman Pendergarst. Is that your most satisfying win to date?

JM: Actually my most satisfying win — and that was a great win — but my most satisfying win to date is my fight December 9 of last year against Carlos Cline. Carlos basically beat the snot out of me for three rounds on the ground. I had spurts on the feet where I opened up and laid into him. At the time of the fight I had been away at rehab from October 18 to November 20 and I wasn’t going to take the fight because I had gone away to take care of that and the main objective up there was to get myself well. I came out of there (rehab) on a new spiritual level and when I came out of there I felt that the next thing I needed to do was get in the cage and take that fight.

I took that fight maybe on two weeks training and I pulled off a rolling kneebar about mid way through the third round and tapped Carlos out. So that was really a satisfying win because I felt like a changed person and the win was evidence of that. I had changed, and not that I couldn’t have beaten him before but I did it on two weeks training.

Q: During this interview you’ve alluded to some of the substance abuse problems in the past, which you’ve been open about in other interviews. Was there anything instrumental in helping you overcome those hurdles?

JM: First and foremost would be god. I think god works through people and I really believe that the people put around me, my mother and my father, they saw the degradation that was going on in front them. Their son was struggling and chopping himself down, and for what? They saw all this potential with intelligence and athletic ability and I was just wasting it. They pretty much steered me in the right direction.

Making that decision (to get help) is something that you have to do but god surrounded me with good people. They loved me and love can move mountains and I saw that love. But to see the hurt and pain in their eyes that was pretty much all the steering I needed.

Q: Where would you like to be a year from now in MMA?

JM: A year from now in MMA? I’d like to be the EliteXC heavyweight champion. From what I’ve seen this is a top organization and this is an organization I want to fight for. They run a show from what I’ve seen to be very professional and they treat fighters well. I trained with Frank Shamrock at one point and I know him well and I saw him fight Baroni and it seemed like a great organization to fight for.

If you’re interested in sponsoring Jon for his next fight, you can request more information by sending an e-mail to: [email protected]


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