Michael Bisping, Jimi Manuwa, Marc Diakiese—these are probably the three names that first spring to mind when thinking about British UFC fighters, but Scotland’s own Stevie Ray proved on Saturday night that he deserves to be in the conversation when it comes to British talent making waves on MMA’s biggest stage.
Ray, 27 years old, made his UFC debut back in April 2015 when he was called up on late notice to take on Polish fighter Marcin Bandel in Krakow, Poland. Despite all the odds being against him that night, Ray pulled out a stunning second round TKO victory and ever since he’s not looked back.
The former Cage Warriors lightweight champion went on to record further victories over Leonardo Mafra and Mickael Lebout, before suffering his only loss so far in the UFC to Alan Patrick in September 2016 in Brasilia, Brazil.
His trip to Brazil was perhaps a punishment for giving the UFC a headache after he pulled out of a fight in July 2016 in Las Vegas due to visa issues. With that all now behind him, Ray has bounced back well since and he followed up a win over fellow Brit Ross Pearson with arguably the biggest victory of his career this past weekend in Nashville, Tennessee.
Ray took on American Joe Lauzon on Saturday night and he had to stare adversity in the face after a torrid first round. The Scot was taken down to the mat early on in the contest and he had to endure a savage ground and pound onslaught from Lauzon which left him bloodied and battered.
While some would have taken the easy way out and just accepted defeat, Ray lived up to his ‘Braveheart’ nickname and fought back superbly in rounds two and three using his boxing to pick apart his American foe on the feet.
Round three was a demonstration of courage, heart and determination as Ray pushed forward with relentless pressure and was unlucky not to finish Lauzon with strikes before the final bell. After a breathless pause waiting for the judge’s decision, Ray deservedly got the nod, winning by a majority decision after an epic 15-minute war where both men put it all on the line.
But what now for Ray? On July 19, the UFC visit Glasgow Scotland for the second time in their history and unsurprisingly Ray wants a spot on the card.
One man seemingly willing to meet him in the Octagon that night is Ray’s fellow Brit, Marc Diakiese. Just minutes after Ray’s win on Saturday night, Diakiese took to social media to say that he’d be “more than happy” to face the Scot in his own backyard.
A lot of respect for stevie but I'd be more than happy!! https://t.co/51ZRZ8VnBR— Marc Diakiese (@Marc_Diakiese) April 23, 2017
While that’s a fight that will have British fans nodding their heads in approval, Ray might want to consider what his performance did for him last evening before signing on the dotted line for another fight so soon. Ray was put through the ringer last night and those around him may want to assess the damage he took before letting the ‘Braveheart’ put it all on the line again with only a few short months of rest.
Fighting in arguably the most talent-filled division in the world is not something to be taken lightly. Ray just picked up the biggest win of his career against a big name and it would be wise to exercise some element of caution before putting to waste all the good work he did on Saturday evening by taking another fight too soon.
Ray now needs to realise his value and with contract talks with the UFC coming up in the next few weeks, he should make sure he both gets paid and that he’s given another top name when he steps foot inside the Octagon again.