The Return of Ray Sefo

By Brian Knapp Sep 25, 2009
More than four years have passed since Ray Sefo dipped his toe in the foreign waters of mixed martial arts.

A five-time muay Thai world champion, he knocked out Olympic silver medalist Min Soo Kim at a K-1 Hero’s event in July 2005, stopping the South Korean judoka with a second-round head kick. Then, just as quickly, he disappeared from the MMA scene.

Sefo, now 38, will return to the cage on Friday when he meets UFC veteran Kevin Jordan in one of the featured bouts at Strikeforce “Challenger Series 3” at the SpiritBank Event Center in Tulsa, Okla., more than 7,500 miles from his hometown of Auckland, New Zealand.

A certain UFC hall of famer altered the course of his career.

“I ran into Randy Couture a couple of years ago; we talked, and I decided to bring my training camp here to the states,” Sefo said. “Everybody there is into MMA. I always had it in the back of my mind, and they kind of reaffirmed it. And here we are.”

His roots planted at Xtreme Couture Mixed Martial Arts in Las Vegas, Sefo has worked hard to refine his attack. One of the world’s premier stand-up fighters, he set out to close the kind of holes that are easily exposed in MMA.

“Training for MMA differs a lot from training for kickboxing, having the ground game with jiu-jitsu and wrestling,” Sefo said. “Royce Gracie is a good friend of mine, and he was the first guy I trained with on the ground. Being on the ground, I feel like a fish out of water because standing up comes second nature to me. I’ve learned to relax more with it, learned how to get back to my feet. It’s a great challenge.”

Sefo -- who defeated fighters like Gilbert Yvel, Melvin Manhoef and Mark Hunt as a kickboxer -- inked a four-fight deal with Strikeforce over the summer. His agreement begins with his battle against Jordan, a 38-year-old journeyman who lost to Gabriel Gonzaga and Paul Buentello during a two-fight stint in the UFC. He decisioned UFC 1 veteran Patrick Smith at an American Steel Cagefighting event in July.

“Every fight is tough,” Sefo said. “He’s a big strong guy. He’s been going at this for a long time and has a lot more experience than I do in MMA. He’s going to bring whatever it takes to win.”

Sefo aims to end the fight in spectacular fashion.

“Hopefully,” he said, “I’m going to come out and bang and give people something they want to see -- a knockout.”

The opportunity to compete inside Strikeforce, currently the only MMA promotion with a network television deal, was not lost on Sefo when the call came.

“It’s a great opportunity, and I thank [Strikeforce CEO] Scott Coker over and over to be able to be a part of Strikeforce and to give MMA a shot and see where I can go,” he said. “I’ve wanted to get back into it. I want to take every fight one step at a time. I want what every fighter wants. I want to take it to the highest level and become a champion.”
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