Stevie Ray, who competed 11 times in the UFC between 2015 and 2019, has announced his retirement from mixed martial arts.
Ray, a pioneer of the Scottish MMA scene, last fought in October, 2019, when he picked up a decision win over Michael Johnson in Singapore. Despite signing a new, four-fight deal with the promotion after that win, he’s elected to hang up the gloves as the result of lingering knee injury.
“Basically I’m retiring from MMA because of my knee,” Ray announced on Facebook Live (via MMA Fighting). “There was options to maybe get an osteotomy surgery, which means cutting the bone and putting plates and stuff in, but some athletes never, ever return after that because it’s quite a big surgery. It’s around a year of rehab as well and just at this stage of my career I wasn’t wanting to go through that.
“It’s been crazy. Eleven to twelve years this has been my life. That’s it. Wake up, train everyday, and fight a few times a year. Even that didn’t work out the best either, I fought an average of two times a year. A while back when I lost to Felder, I opened up my own MMA gym, Braveheart MMA, and started coaching, and even that was a nightmare to coach and also fight. Pretty much without going into too much detail I’ve decided to retire due to health reasons. The knee, I can’t compete at the level that I fight at and still—and there’s loads of people that said to me I should maybe have just fought a few more fights for a paycheck, which sounds alright going in, but again when you’ve made a name for yourself and to go in and lose a fight just for a paycheck, to go in and possibly get knocked out because I’m not able to train, I didn’t think that would even be worth it.”
Ray had three surgeries in an effort to repair is injured knee, but unfortunately, the issues persisted, particularly when it came to the wrestling and kicking facets of the MMA arsenal.
“Going back, before that, for my last three fights my knee’s been pretty badly damaged,” Ray said. “Those that train with me or are close to me know that I was having to spend a lot of days off training, icing my knee, when my opponent was probably training.
“It was f*cking with my head taking days off and not going into the fight as confident. A lot of stuff I wasn’t able to do. For example, really struggling to wrestle and throw any kicks, so I had to really adapt all of my training.”
While it’s rarely easy for fighters to transition into retirement, Stevie Ray seems to be at peace with his decision.
“I’ve dedicated my whole life to it and it’s hard to enjoy your life when the only thing you’re doing is putting all your time into fighting,” Ray said. “But I’ve enjoyed it. I’ve seen loads of different countries with the UFC, I’ve fought in different places, I’ve loved MMA. It’s still gonna be a part of my whole life, obviously.”
Over the course of his competitive career, Ray picked up victories over the likes of Curt Warburton (twice), Marcin Bandel, Leonardo Mafra, Mickael Lebout, Ross Pearson, Joe Lauzon, and Johnson. He retires with a solid 23-9 MMA record.
Congrats to Stevie Ray on a fantastic career.