Scotland’s own, Stevie “Braveheart” Ray (17-5-0), made his UFC debut at UFC Fight Night Krakow, Poland, but he left the Octagon that night leaving a mark on some newly acquired fans, both for his ability as a mixed martial artist and his character. As a special guest on Jon and Mike’s MMA Corner, Ray discussed what went into making his long-awaited UFC opener, and he highlighted the mental strength necessary to perform successfully on the largest stage of MMA.
Prior to the call from the UFC coming across the wire, which any fighter not in the UFC dreams of, Ray was not exactly living in what he might describe as “fight mode”. He described this moment,
“Before I got the call to the UFC, I was eating a ten-inch spicy chicken pizza and four slices of birthday cake because it was my birthday.”
Knowing an opportunity to fight inside the Octagon was enough for Ray to set down the fifth piece and hit pause on any more birthday celebrations. He immediately set out to prepare himself for battle in the thirteen-days he was given. Often, fighters are allotted the chance of a lifetime in these short-notice offerings, though many are overwhelmed by the UFC’s glitz and glamour; Ray didn’t earn the nickname “Braveheart” for nothing. His intentions were to enter the UFC and stamp his name amongst those in the lightweight division, which is arguably the most stacked, talent-rich weight class. Ray recalled how he felt about his first appearance in the UFC,
“Going into the fight, a lot of people were talking about getting the UFC jitters. I didn’t feel any sort of jitters. I felt comfortable. I felt like I was just fighting on Cage Warriors, just doing the same thing. Even walking out, I saw the crowd, and it didn’t get to me at all. I felt really comfortable and composed.”
There was no rattling Ray on this occasion; he carried with him the same visions and aspirations that every fighter walks into the cage with, and he wasn’t going to let the monstrosity of the UFC prevent him from earning his first victory. Ray remembered,
“I always visualized while watching the UFC that I’d have Bruce Buffer saying, ‘Fighting out of the lightweight division’, pausing the video and saying your own name yourself. Just listening to it, it felt amazing. I wasn’t really nervous. Well, I was nervous because I always get nervous before a fight. I just felt confident.”
In Ray’s inaugural outing, his performance spoke for itself that he was more than deserving of the chance to match up against MMA’s elite, though the outcome wasn’t the only thing that earned him new fans who were tuning into this UFC event. The speech Ray gave inside the Octagon immediately following his contest left the audience with nothing to do but wave his banner. On the microphone, Ray grew his following by saying,
“First of all, I just want to apologize to all the Polish fans. I know it’s always better to get a hometown win for your fighters. I hope I’ve made a few fans out there today. I had about thirty pounds to lose in fifteen days. I wasn’t sure I could make it, but I was always going to try. I also want to say I love you to my fiancé at home; she’s due with my baby. There is even a chance I could go to my phone, right now, and my baby girl was born. I also just want to say, UFC, Joe Silva, thanks for giving me the opportunity. I hope I did enough to get that bonus; it’d change my life. Thanks everybody. Thanks!”
A man of few words, yet each utterance was valued by onlookers. Merely sharing that thirty pounds were dropped in two-weeks doesn’t provide fans the understanding of what is entailed in shaving off so much weight. Using the Dolce Diet: Three-Weeks to Shredded, a diet-plan developed by Mike Dolce, Ray is accustomed to a systematic program for his weight-loss. Since the fight was booked in a time-frame that wasn’t conducive to a typical weight cut, Ray had to force the issue, a true test of mental fortitude. It was interesting to listen to Ray share this process with the audience during his interview,
“I basically did the last week of Three-Weeks to Shredded. Even though I had two-weeks till the fight, I didn’t do the lead up weeks. The last week of Three-Weeks to Shredded is based on food intake and not training. The program isn’t designed to be training on the food intake. Obviously, I couldn’t do that with only two-weeks. If I was doing the last week of Three Weeks to Shredded as usual, I was supposed to be chilling and just losing weight, though I was training hard as hell with minimal calories.”
Clearly, Ray’s mental strength allowed him to push through the turmoil that his body must have been going through by training so hard without the proper sustenance; moreover, another reason Ray becomes a fan favorite upon exposure.
Under a great deal of pressure, Ray shrugs any of the tension off that may hold another fighter back from reaching their fullest potential. With an upcoming UFC event to be held in Glasgow, Scotland, Ray would be, seemingly, unstoppable with a full training camp and a collection of Scottish hopefuls who would adore and cheer “Braveheart”.
Check out this episode of Jon and Mike’s MMA Corner at https://soundcloud.com/jonandmikesmmacorner
By: Dave Madden