UFC lightweight veteran Stevie Ray has called time on his 10-year fight career that has seen him compete on 32 occasions including 11 fights inside the UFC Octagon. He holds high-profile wins over the likes of Joe Lauzon, Ross Pearson, and Michael Johnson.

Ray who was last seen in action at UFC Singapore in October 2019 when he beat Johnson via majority decision announced on Facebook Live that he was walking away from the sport due to ongoing health issues, he said.

“Basically I’m retiring from MMA because of my knee. 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 explained that training for his last three fights had been tough and despite having three surgeries to fix his injured knee he was still unable to fully straight 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.”

Ray plans to remain in the sport coaching at his gym and potentially moving into MMA management.

“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.” (Transcribed by MMA Fighting)

What is your favourite Stevie Ray fight?

A lifelong fight fan from Liverpool, England who has been covering mixed martial arts (MMA) and boxing for several years. Follow @JordanEllisUK on Twitter for all the latest fight news, views, interviews and live event coverage.