Last September, UFC lightweight Stevie Ray announced his retirement from professional competition at the age of 30. At the time, “Braveheart” attributed his decision to lingering health issues.
Now 11 months removed from his former employers, the Scotsman is spilling more details. In a recent tell-all with BJPenn.com, Ray spoke in detail about his experience dealing with the UFC through his manager Ali Abdelaziz.
He’d apparently been hearing murmurs about the company’s supposed plan to unceremoniously release him from his active contract.
It was a weird situation, I won my fight in Singapore against Michael Johnson (in 2019) and I signed a new four-fight deal with the UFC. After that fight, I got matched up with Marc Diakese in March. Unfortunately, I had to pull out for the first time in my career due to a knee injury. I had the same injury against Johnson, but it was much worse this time.
My manager at the time, Ali Abdelaziz phoned me and said, ‘Stevie, how would you feel about signing with another promotion if I can get you more money?’ I told him it depends on how much more money, like obviously I want to stay with the UFC but if it’s a lot more money, that changes things.
I thought it was a strange phone call as I just re-signed with the UFC and won the biggest fight of my career. He basically then just said the UFC knows you have a knee injury and they want (to get) rid of you. I had then heard they wanted to get rid of me before the Johnson fight and they wanted me to lose so they could cut me, which is why they gave me that fight.
Of course, I managed to win and after I won, they didn’t want to re-sign me right away as I was starting to be expensive. I made 40k and 40k against Johnson plus the 10k for Reebok so almost 100k a fight. After some time, I got the new contact.
During this time, Abdelaziz was pushing for Ray to sign with another organization because the UFC was supposedly planning to cut him because of his knee issues. He eventually got the clearance from doctors and was offered to fight fellow prospect Mike Davis for Fight Island.
Then more problems started to arise.
I then got told to send them my visa details, which was strange and shady as Ali and the UFC knew I didn’t have a visa. I had some legal problems when I was younger so it takes me a while to get my visa, so I had to turn the fight down. After that, I got told I was released from the UFC.
A few weeks go by, I was depressed, and then I just said ‘f—k it, I’m done with this.’ I’m coming off the biggest win of my career and this is how it ends in the UFC.
Ray says he remains thankful for the opportunity granted to him by the UFC. He hopes to make amends with his former employers sometime in the future and hopefully make a return, but he’s not holding his breath for it.
I had cried several times because it was the end of the chapter in the UFC and I felt like I was forced out and there was nothing I could do.
I do hope we can mend fences or talk about it because I would jump at the chance to fight for them again. Unfortunately, I don’t think that will happen.
Ray ended his career with a record of 23-9 (7-4 in the UFC). He has quality wins over the likes of Michael Johnson, Joe Lauzon, and Ross Pearson.