Ray of hope as Stevie returns to the ring for sell-out bout

Stevie Ray, left, defeats Brazil's Leonardo Mafra in the MMA lightweight division in Glasgow (picture by Lisa Ferguson)
Stevie Ray, left, defeats Brazil's Leonardo Mafra in the MMA lightweight division in Glasgow (picture by Lisa Ferguson)

Mixed martial arts fighter Stevie Ray is set to return this weekend to the scene of his finest triumph to date.

The Kirkcaldy sporting ace is heading back to the SSE Hydro in Glasgow for a sell-out battle in the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC).

Stevie (27) pocketed a $50,000 bonus for a first-round knockout on his last visit to the city in 2015.

And he’s hoping for similar success this Sunday against American Paul Felder.

“I am feeling great – just kind of the same as always,” said Stevie. “I am healthy and I’m in good shape . I have not got any injuries, so I am raring to go.”

Stevie is aiming to shed just a few more pounds ahead of Saturday’s weigh-in for the lightweight division bout.

He is also set to renew his contract and, if he wins, he could be in a much stronger position to command bigger money and maybe face opponents from the world’s top 15.

Stevie and opponent Felder are familiar with each other’s styles. “I know him – I spoke to him in Las Vegas (during an all-expenses paid trip to the UFC’s new athlete retreat in the Nevada entertainment capital), I have spoken to him on social media and watched footage of him online – and he will have watched mine,” said Stevie.

“We had a bit of a laugh in Vegas but we know on Sunday night, it’s down to business.

“We’ll be going to try and punch each other’s brains out, but we know it’s just a sport at the end of the day.”

Stevie’s contest two years ago in front of a 13,000 capacity crowd, in which he defeated Leonardo Mafra, was one of the best highlights of his career, he said.

“I can still picture it and image it, playing it through in my head,” he said. “It gives me goosebumps thinking about it, so I’m looking forward to doing it all again. It was really cool and I am buzzing.”

Stevie, an ex-St Andrew’s High School pupil, added that a victory, with a good performance, would be “huge” for him, putting him on a three-fight winning streak and considerably boosting his contract talks with UFC bosses.

He said he still got nervous before a fight but what mattered was how he dealt with it.

“I know getting nervous is normal – it would almost be weird if I wasn’t,” he said. “It would mean I probably didn’t want it badly enough.”

Stevie started MMA (mixed martial arts) from a completely fresh perspective, so he believes his game is good all round. He was first introduced to it in his late teens when a friend invited him to train with local coach Jim McKelvey, in what was effectively a converted back garden shed in Kirkcaldy.