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Stevie Ray ready to exchange with Michael Johnson despite grappling confidence

Stevie Ray Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

Stevie Ray has proved that he’s well able to grapple with the best in his weight class, but he isn’t ruling out trading leather with boxing ace Michael Johnson in the co-main event of UFC Singapore on Saturday.

The Scot is relishing the thought of getting in there with Johnson, who has a great track record of putting on fan-friendly fights, including his 2017 Fight of the Year against Justin Geathje.

“I’m definitely looking forward to getting in there with him,” Ray told MMA Fighting.

“With an opponent like him, you know it’s going to be a good fight. I always gets excited for fights like this against guys that you know are going to come and fight. A lot of guys think too much about getting the win and that’s it. The way they go about winning the fight could make for very boring viewing for the fans. Johnson is a guy who always puts on a good fight for the fans and I think this is going to be another good one.”

Ray showcased his sublime submission skills with a victory over celebrated Liverpudlian jiu-jitsu practitioner Paddy Pimblett at a recent Polaris event. Although he underlined how confident he is in terms of a grappling advantage over Johnson, he thinks he has a lot of options when he breaks down the fight stylistically.

“It was inside heel-hook I got on Paddy, with a flying scissor entry, but I came out of that uninjured, which was the most important part for me,” explained Ray. “I’ll always have that in the back of the my mind, I believe that I’m better than Johnson on the ground, but I also believe I can beat him on the feet. It’s one of those things where I’ll wait to see what happens on the night. He’s quite punch-heavy, he does like to box. I feel like I’ve got a lot of options against Johnson. I believe I can beat him on the feet or on the ground.”

“Braveheart” underlined that he will not be shying away from a brawl with Johnson.

“I’d never shy away from the exchanges; I’ve always liked a good brawl as well. As I said, I think it will be a good one of the fans. He likes to bang and I like to bang, it will be fun.”

Ray also discussed what it means to be competing in his second UFC co-main event.

“It feels good that they’ve put me in the main event. It kind of feels like I actually mean something to them. I think they see me as a good fighter and they’ve given me this tough fight. In terms of adding pressure, I don’t think it does. It all feels the same to me whether I’m first fight or last fight.”