Popular Scottish fighter Stevie Ray explains why he considers 2016 to be the most important period of his fighting career so far as he aims to break into the upper echelons of the UFC’s 155-pound division.
Ray has enjoyed an incredible start to his UFC career since making his debut back in April 2015 with the Kirkcaldy fighter having won all three of his fights thus far, including a spectacular first round KO of Brazilian Leonardo Mafra at UFC Fight Night 72 in Glasgow last July. Now with a new four-fight deal in the bag Stevie feels the time is right to start making his move up the rankings in one of the toughest divisions in the UFC.
He said: “The UFC wanted me on the London card in February but I had meniscus tears in each knee that required surgery, so that ruled me out. I am gutted to miss out on the London event but the surgery had to be done”. Stevie is back in the gym doing some light training as part of his rehab and is looking to get back inside the Octagon as soon as possible.
He said: “I’m itching to get back in there and fight and Rotterdam on May 8 would be perfect. Holland has a long history in combat sports so being on that card would be amazing”.
As far as possible next opponents, Ray is in no hurry to call anyone out and is happy to step in there with anyone. Stevie said: “I will let the UFC decide who they want me to fight next but certainly, in a fight or two, I will be looking for someone in the top-15. I want to fight at least three times this year and go 6-0 in the UFC and work my up the rankings”. 
“My life has changed since making my debut but I feel this is the year that will determine how my life will go; if I lose two fights I could get cut so I need to win fights and the more I win fights the more money I make for my family. I want to give them a decent lifestyle. I have put years and years of sacrifice into MMA and my dreams are now coming true, money motivates me now that I have a fiancée and a family and I want to give them a much better life”. 
“I want to beat people and in devastating style, I want to win more $50,000 bonuses”.
Stevie Ray KOs Leonardo Mafra at UFC Glasgow
If Stevie is chasing the big money fights then he is in the perfect division to make that happen now that Irish superstar and current featherweight champion, Conor McGregor , has moved up to lightweight. McGregor is scheduled to fight lightweight champion Rafael dos Anjos for the title on March 5 in Las Vegas but Stevie thinks it may not go as planned for ‘The Notorious’ one.
He said: “Conor’s big enough for the division and I think he will do well at 155lbs but I do think dos Anjos will beat him. But then, I also thought Aldo would beat him and look how that turned out. It’s the fight game so anything can happen. It’s not always the best fighters than win; there is always the chance of landing that one KO punch”.
“But I’m very interested to see how he does at lightweight. I would certainly jump at the chance to fight him and if I keep winning fights then it’s not beyond possibility at some point down the line. McGregor’s the big money fight in the UFC and the man everyone wants to fight”.
Follow me on Twitter @heffiejr