Stevie Ray is happy to shut up the doubters as he fights for the PFL lightweight title.
Following Ray’s majority decision win over Michael Johnson, it was reported he retired from MMA. Yet, he then told BJPENN.com that he only retired because the UFC released him and went on to sign with the PFL. Ray then ended his two-and-a-half-year layoff but dropped his debut to Alex Martinez. After losing to Martinez, he submitted Anthony Pettis to earn a playoff spot and beat Pettis once again to advance to the finals.
“It’s been a long road, it’s pretty much been a year of training consistently, every day. I’ve trained more than I’ve ever trained, it’s been tough. I’m looking forward to a break,” Ray said on Just Scrap Radio on BJPENN.com.
When Ray makes the walk to the cage, standing across him will be Olivier Aubin-Mercier who is actually a former training partner of his. The two used to train together at TriStar years ago and all Ray remembers is the two had great grappling matches including both of them submitting each other.
“We have done a fair bit, we never sparred much so we never did any MMA sparring,” Ray revealed. “I’m sure we had a few rounds but we did a lot of grappling training together. We have both submitted each other, I remember I submitted with a rear naked choke, and he submitted me with a kimura once… Everything I can take away from the training sessions, I can see in his fights anyway. It was over four years ago the last time we trained together, it’s training, it’s not exactly fighting.”
Although the two did train with one another, Stevie Ray isn’t relying on that. Instead, he believes the game plan is simple. If he can keep it standing, he’ll be able to piece up Olivier Aubin-Mercier but isn’t afraid to go to the ground.
“He’s got better wrestling and I’ve got better striking. He hits hard, he’s a big dude and hits hard so I have to respect that,” Ray said. “I believe I will be faster than him and he thinks he will be faster so I will be surprised if he’s faster. Once he tastes my power on the feet he will go back to his roots and try and wrestle me. I’m prepared for everything. Whether it’s me taking it to the ground or keeping it standing. I believe I am a good grappler and striker. It’s just feeling it out and where I can win but I believe I can win in both situations.”
If Ray does keep it standing, he believes it will lead to a finish. Yet, he knows the Canadian is as durable as they come so isn’t banking on a finish. instead, all Ray is focusing on is getting his hand raised and becoming the PFL lightweight champ, and winning a million dollars.
“He’s never been stopped but there’s a first for everything. It’s pretty hard to keep records like that in MMA,” Ray said. “I don’t really care if I don’t finish him, I’m aiming to get the win. Am I going to be disappointed to beat him by a decision? No, I’ll be over the moon.”
If he does all that, Ray believes becoming the PFL champ will silence a lot of critics about his career.
“It would be pretty cool because it stamps the fact that it proves to everyone that they made a mistake and I wasn’t done,” Ray concluded.
Do you think Stevie Ray will beat Olivier Aubin-Mercier to win the PFL lightweight title?