Scottish mixed martial artist Stevie Ray has announced for a second time that he is retiring from fighting. The 33-year-old – nicknamed Braveheart – had previously retired from the sport in 2020 before making his comeback last year.
Ray’s announcement came after a TKO defeat to Clay Collard at PFL 6 last week, which was his third loss in a row. In the 2023 PFL regular season he lost twice and failed to qualify for the play-offs.
After the defeat to Collard, he posted on Instagram that he was retiring: “Fourteen years of service done. Time to pass on my knowledge and experience.” In the post he announced that he would delivering seminars in the UK and would be coaching full-time at his Braveheart MMA gym in Scotland.
From Scotland to UFC
Ray began his career as a professional fighter in the UK, with a record of 16-5, winning top European promotions such as BAMMA and Cage Warriors as well as competing in Brazilian ju-jitsu. In 2015 he made his debut in UFC, fighting Marcin Bandel as a replacement for the injured Jason Saggo, and won via TKO in the second round.
He won his next two appearances at UFC Fight Night 72 and 76, beating Leonardo Mafra and Mickael Lebout, though after visa issues had ruled out his appearance at The Ultimate Fighter 23 Finale he lost to Alan Patrick at Fight Night 95.
Ray signed a new contract with UFC in 2018 and won two of his next four fights before ongoing knee injuries led to him announcing his retirement from MMA.
“Basically I’m retiring from MMA because of my knee,” he 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.”
One last comeback
However, a year later Ray claimed that he had retired because the UFC was planning to cut him due to his knee issues: “A few weeks go by, I was depressed, and then I just said ’I’m done with this.’ I’m coming off the biggest win of my career and this is how it ends in the UFC.
“I had cried several times because it was the end of the chapter in the UFC and I felt like I was forced out and there was nothing I could do. I do hope we can mend fences or talk about it because I would jump at the chance to fight for them again. Unfortunately, I don’t think that will happen.”
Not long afterwards, Ray came out of retirement to fight in the PFL, beating former UFC lightweight champion Anthony Pettis twice, but lost in the finals of the Lightweight Tournament in November 2022. His record overall in PFL was 2-4, having compiled a 7-4 record during his UFC career.
Earlier this month he spoke publicly about his daughter Myla’s health problems, having recently had a brain operation to help correct her potentially fatal epilepsy, and how his family needed the money from his fights to pay for her ongoing care: “I’ve already vowed that if I find myself in a tough situation in a fight again then I’m just going to think of Myla. Her bravery really has been an inspiration to me.”