By Dave Madden @DMaddenMMA
Stevie “Braveheart” Ray (17-5-0) began his reign of terror on the lightweight division when he hatched from an MMA robin’s egg and burst onto the scene to enter an Emerald Bay of competitors; each matchup on the UFC’s lightweight roster is another hungry Blue Shark. After demonstrating incredible resolve to debut at UFC Fight Night Krakow, Poland, Ray will kick off the main card when the UFC makes its first stop in Scotland at UFC Fight Night Glasgow, Scotland on Saturday, July 18, 2015. The buzz that the UFC generates is already electric blue, but imagining what it will be like when Ray walks into the SSE Hydro Arena: a Smurf Village popping like kernels with the Scottish flags and the heat being thrown by Ray flying. Ray will truly take on the role of “Braveheart” and best represent the color blue: waving the hue and history of Scotland; ensuring his countrymen and women, and all fight fans alike, are satisfied with his performance; and this is no blue-light special when it comes to his desire to compete.
4 blue triangles and 4 white triangles to equal the eight sides of the UFC’s Octagon, but the symbol of Scotland runs so much deeper. The Saltire, the white X, means: a cross with diagonal bars of equal length, but according to legend, St. Andrews, the patron Saint of Scotland, was crucified on an X-shaped cross. The Saltire could also mark the center of the Octagon where Ray’s performance could afford him to become Scotland’s future legend, leaving the fans to rally cheers of country fortitude; much like William Wallace spawned bravery and pride onto his people in Braveheart (1995).
Many UFC fans were drawn in by Conor McGregor, the interim featherweight champion, and his historical analogy of the UFC’s Octagon to that of an bloodstained, Irish battlefield. Following Ray’s win at UFC Fight Krakow, Poland, the media caught up with Ray in a post-fight scrum, and his pride in country, with a deeper brogue than McGregor’s, resounded,
“Scotland is a lot like Ireland. There is that history; the battlefield that McGregor always goes on about. Fighting is in our blood, Scottish and Irish. We like fighting, and we like alcohol, both of them together brings a good night. “
Whether Blue Hawaiians or Hypnotiq cap off the night or there are tales of Scottish history recanted, Ray can be counted on in future events to cause every vein in your circulatory system to pump harder with his will to win and technique to follow up his drive. It’s great! Mimicking his ancestors on war’s front lines, Ray exclaimed after winning the lightweight title at Cage Warriors 60 in a post-fight interview,
“I would have died rather than losing.”
Now, when the UFC reaches out its tentacles of information regarding matchups, like a blue-ringed octopus using its feelers, fans will be dancing a Scottish country dance, instead of an Irish jig, when they see Ray’s name.
Don’t Worry, Be Happy
Obviously, there is a great deal of pride that goes into any fight where Ray is slated to appear, and it doesn’t matter if he fights out of the red corner or the blue. Ray’s intentions are damaging, and fans are pleased as Blue Raspberry Kool-Aid, or punch, to tune-out all surroundings during rounds and return to your pint of Blue Bell Ice Cream between them. All in all, Ray wants the fights fans who circle the globe to be happy that they witnessed a “Braveheart” beatdown.
In order to maintain fans’, as well as his own, happiness in the fight game, there are no clues for Blue to search out; Ray provides all the answers: show up, show genuineness, show domination.
Check out Ray in his fight at Cage Warriors 60, especially before realizing what he fought through:
The last time “Braveheart” pulled out of a fight was on the last blue moon. In Ray’s transparency with the media, he revealed a couple of injuries he fought through to earn the lightweight title at Cage Warriors 60. In his post-fight interview, he confessed,
“When I was training, John Makdessi caught me with a spinning back-kick, and I thought he broke my ribs six-weeks ago. I had to go to the hospital to get a scan; there was no way I was pulling out of this fight. I just continued through until it got better. Also, my last week of sparring at The Griphouse with the Dinky Ninjas, I clashed heads with one of my teammates. Unfortunately, he got injured; he had a big cut on his forehead. I feel so sorry for that; it was an accident. Mine was up here [pointing to a cut closer to the top of his head], and it opened up in the first round [of the Cage Warriors bout]. I knew that was probably going to happen, so I was prepared for that.”
Sure, the chants and cheers are fulfilling, except when you find yourself on the losing end of them. Nobody comprehends this more compassionately than Ray. Proceeding Ray’s win at UFC Fight Night Krakow, Poland, he endeared those who filled Tauron Arena, or tuned in on UFC’s Fight Pass, with a heartwarming post-fight interview after finishing his Polish opponent Marcin Bandel in the second round. He said,
“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!”
During his well-used time on the microphone, he modeled good will, but he also alluded to the fact that he was on a diet of a handful of blueberries a day for the fifteen days he had to prepare for his Octagon debut. Ray detailed the process he went through to cut the necessary weight, tipping the scales in his favor, while appearing as a special guest on episode 51 of Jon and Mike’s MMA Corner:
“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.”
Luckily, all of his hometown supporters will have Ray as their warrior representative to turn to when he kicks off the main card at UFC Fight Night Glasgow, Scotland. Even if Ray were to somehow lose in his own backyard, he’d still ensure that everyone’s frown turned upside-down.
Sky Is the Limit
Standing on Scotland’s shore, what does Ray see? A horizon-an end. The journey may be long and arduous, but Ray is up to the task. There is no halting Ray’s progress-the clear blue sky is the limit!
After his win at Cage Warriors 60, Ray hit the target, though it was the size of Babe the Blue Ox, for fans to sympathize with what a professional fighter relinquishes in order to pursue their dream and provide for their family:
“Nobody could train as hard as I trained these last nine weeks. I put a lot of determination and sacrifices; I missed my daughter’s first birthday.”
The training entailed in competing as a professional fighter is cumbersome to say the least. Ray’s training, at home in Scotland at The Griphouse with his team-the Dinky Ninjas-or across the wide, blue ocean at the infamous TriStar Gym in Canada, is paying dividends in his development and climb up the lightweight ladder toward the clouds.
After his win in Krakow, Poland, other competitors during his post-fight scrum were forewarned as to what is soon to arrive in the UFC out of Scotland,
“Some people might not know but we have a lot of high-level fighters, and I think this [his win at UFC Fight Night Krakow, Poland] will be the motivation they need. It just so happens that The Griphouse is the only fight team in Scotland. It’s a top-level [gym], and you are going to be seeing a lot more Dinky Ninjas in the UFC.”
Ray also shared what he thought about his training at the TriStar Gym in his post-fight interview at Cage Warriors 60,
“Going over there and training for 6 weeks, training with the best athletes in the world, and it’s things like that that make the difference between winning and losing; that’s why I did it!”
Looking deep into Ray’s blue eyes, make no mistake when he tells you that he has goals for himself in MMA. Another sound byte during his interview with Jon and Mike’s MMA Corner that enveloped his hopeful spirit and work-ethic to achieve his dreams:
“I always visualized while watching the UFC that I’d have Bruce Buffer saying, ‘Fighting out of the lightweight division,’ pausing the video game and saying your own name yourself.”
Reaching into a box of Crayola Crayons, Stevie “Braveheart” Ray is certainly best paired as blue. Maybe Ray signifies a different color to you, but being the UFC’s newest, up-and-coming lightweight makes him one you don’t want to miss when he designs a beautiful display of mixed martial arts using a rainbow of color.
Check out Stevie Ray’s episode or others at Jon and Mike’s MMA Corner
Watch the post-fight interviews referenced in the article for yourself
Cage Warriors 60
UFC Fight Night Krakow, Poland