Ray, 30, announced on Facebook Live that he is officially retiring from competition after 32 pro bouts, including a 7-4 mark in the UFC. He is coming off of a win in his last fight, a majority decision nod over Michael Johnson at UFC Singapore in October 2019.
In the video, Ray explains that despite signing a four-fight contract following his win over Johnson, he has decided to retire due to to health issues.
“Basically I’m retiring from MMA because of my knee,” Ray said. “There was options to maybe get an osteotomy surgery, which means cutting the bone and putting plates and stuff in, but some athletes never, ever return after that because it’s quite a big surgery. It’s around a year of rehab as well and just at this stage of my career I wasn’t wanting to go through that.
“It’s been crazy. Eleven to twelve years this has been my life. That’s it. Wake up, train everyday, and fight a few times a year. Even that didn’t work out the best either, I fought an average of two times a year. A while back when I lost to Felder, I opened up my own MMA gym, Braveheart MMA, and started coaching, and even that was a nightmare to coach and also fight. Pretty much without going into too much detail I’ve decided to retire due to health reasons. The knee, I can’t compete at the level that I fight at and still—and there’s loads of people that said to me I should maybe have just fought a few more fights for a paycheck, which sounds alright going in, but again when you’ve made a name for yourself and to go in and lose a fight just for a paycheck, to go in and possibly get knocked out because I’m not able to train, I didn’t think that would even be worth it.”
Ray went 2-1 in his previous three fights, but described the training camps as being “a nightmare.” He noticed serious problems with his knee ahead of his fight with Jessin Ayari in Moncton, New Brunswick, in October 2018, though he would go on to defeat Ayari by unanimous decision.
To address problems with cartilage in his knees, Ray has had three separate surgeries and he stated in the video that he has difficulty straightening his left leg.
“Going back, before that, for my last three fights my knee’s been pretty badly damaged,” Ray said. “Those that train with me or are close to me know that I was having to spend a lot of days off training, icing my knee, when my opponent was probably training.
“It was f*cking with my head taking days off and not going into the fight as confident. A lot of stuff I wasn’t able to do. For example, really struggling to wrestle and throw any kicks, so I had to really adapt all of my training.”
In the future, Ray plans to focus on coaching at his gym and also to become involved with managing fighters.
“I’ve dedicated my whole life to it and it’s hard to enjoy your life when the only thing you’re doing is putting all your time into fighting,” Ray said. “But I’ve enjoyed it. I’ve seen loads of different countries with the UFC, I’ve fought in different places, I’ve loved MMA. It’s still gonna be a part of my whole life, obviously.”
Ray debuted in June 2010, beginning his career in his native Scotland and capturing titles in top European promotions such as BAMMA and Cage Warriors. He joined the UFC in April 2015 and won five of his first six fights, scoring consecutive decision wins over veterans Joe Lauzon and Ross Pearson.
He finishes his career with a 23-9 pro record.
Watch Ray’s retirement announcement below:
I am retiring from MMA Competition. Quick live video to briefly explain why etc.Posted by Steven Ray on Monday, September 21, 2020