When Scotland’s Stevie Ray decided to walk away from MMA back in 2020, it came as something of a surprise. At the time, the then 30-year-old chalked his decision up to a longstanding knee injury that had made it increasingly difficult for him to perform in the Octagon.
Still, coming off a victory over Michael Johnson, and with a 23-9 overall record in MMA, it seemed like an odd time to retire. In a recent interview, however, Ray gave more insight into his decision—most notably that he had felt at the time that the UFC was trying to push him out of the promotion.
“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,” Ray revealed to BJPenn.com. “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.”
In the interview, Ray also noted that, were he able to mend fences with the UFC, he would absolutely be interested in making a return to MMA. Although he added that he didn’t think that kind of resolution was all that likely.
“I’m now looking for a new promotion, I’m in talks with Bellator and Brave CF right now. I’m a game opponent and fight in exciting fights,” Ray explained. “I just want to get back in there and see if I still got it. I’ve always been a fighter. Brave is interested in signing me to a long-term deal. I’ve been wanting to end retirement for ages. It has been hard with COVID, my country was shut down for a bit. I need to get back, I’m always in the gym training and sparring. Just get one fight and remind everyone that I can f—ing fight.”
Ray also posted an update on Instagram, to let promotions know that he’s absolutely still fighting fit.
Ray went 7-4 in his four years with the UFC, picking up notable victories over not only Michael Johnson, but Ross Pearson and Joe Lauzon as well. The former Cage Warriors and BAMMA lightweight champion hasn’t fought since his victory over Johnson back in October of 2019.