With five Ultimate Fighting Championship wins under his belt already, Steven Ray takes it one fight at a time in an ultra-competitive lightweight division.
The 27-year-old Scottish “Braveheart” will carry a 21-7 record into his UFC Fight Night 127 clash with Kajan Johnson on Saturday at the O2 Arena in London, where he hopes to clear whatever cobwebs remain from his knockout loss to Paul Felder in July. The defeat snapped a two-fight winning streak for Ray, a two-time Cage Warriors Fighting Championship titleholder.
As Ray prepares for his preliminary battle with Johnson, here are five things you might not know about him:
1. More than a third of his wins have resulted in tapouts.
Even as an amateur, Ray favored submissions. A month after his professional debut, he tapped Loic Marty with a brabo choke at a Brawl at the Bay event. He has gone on to execute seven more submissions in various promotions, three of them by rear-naked choke. Ray also has six wins by knockout or technical knockout, including five inside of two rounds.
2. More than half of his losses have come by submission.
Ray lives by the sword and dies by the sword when it comes to the ground game. He suffered his first submission defeat at Honour 4 on Nov. 27, 2010, when Dan Hope tapped him with an armbar. Three more submission losses have followed, with Nicholas Musoke (rear-naked choke), Assan Njie (guillotine choke) and Ivan Buchinger (rear-naked choke) doing the honors.
3. He has a trilogy under his belt.
“Braveheart” has gone head-to-head with Curt Warburton on three occasions, once in the British Association of Mixed Martial Arts and twice in Cage Warriors Fighting Championship. Warburton won the first meeting by unanimous decision, only to see Ray’s hand raised in two subsequent encounters: a five-round split decision at Cage Warriors 69 and a rear-naked choke submission at Cage Warriors 73.
4. Brazilian jiu-jitsu competitions have supplemented his MMA pursuits.
Even as he was emerging as a prospect in Europe, 2011 and 2012 were banner years for Ray in Brazilian jiu-jitsu. He competed at the Glasgow Open in his native Scotland, where he won gold as a white belt in the medium-heavyweight division and as a blue belt in the middleweight division. Ray also competed in the Scotia Cup, winning first place as a white belt middleweight and blue belt medium-heavyweight. He went on to place third as an advanced division middleweight at the Glow Open in 2013.
5. Regional success led to life-changing opportunities in the Octagon.
Prior to joining the UFC roster in 2015, Ray won titles in the Scottish Fight Challenge, MMA Total Combat, Cage Warriors Fighting Championship and British Association of Mixed Martial Arts organizations. He arrived in the Ultimate Fighting Championship on a two-fight winning streak, stopped Marcin Bandel with ground-and-pound at UFC Fight Night 64 and then put away Leonardo Mafra Texeira with punches at UFC Fight Night 72, where he was awarded a $50,000 “Performance of the Night” bonus.