As part of the UFC, Stevie Ray has experienced the euphoria of coming out on top in a gruelling battle in front of thousands of cheering fans.
Ray has made a massive impact in the sport’s biggest promotion throughout his three years as part of it - with even more big nights still to come.
But the Kirkcaldy MMA expert has also recently turned his hand to coaching, and says he gets the exact same buzz out of that side of the sport from seeing his learners improve week on week.
Ray has based himself at the town’s Arena Gym, where a few times a week beginners and those more experienced in the various strands of MMA are put through their paces by one of the best.
In the short few months he’s been taking his Braveheart MMA classes, most of those who have joined up are already starting to see massive results.
Ray said: “I had people at the start who came in and said they really only wanted to do this for the fitness and weren’t interested in fighting.
“But over time they’ve become more confident and start to do more.
“When someone maybe gets their first submission, for me to see how it makes them feel gives me the same feeling I get when I’m fighting.”
The Fife Free Press visited one of Ray’s sessions at his Mitchelston Industrial Estate base, attended by over 20 people.
Guest on the night was Ray’s head coach and BJJ blackbelt, James Doolan.
There was a buzz around the room as those taking part got changed into their training gear - but when the clock struck 7 and James and Stevie called the class together, the chatter stopped and attention was focused.
“People come for different reasons,” said Stevie. “It could be learning how to defend themselves or how to fight.”
While Ray’s own fighting career is still very much alive, the 28-year-old admits he’s planning for the future with his coaching classes and it’s an avenue he’d like to develop further when he leaves the octagon.
“This is a job for me,” he said. “I’m still fighting and people don’t always understand the risks involved with fighting for the biggest promotion in the world.
“If I get injured in camp, I don’t get paid, so this gives me a bit of security. Now at least I know that if something happens to me I can keep earning.”
Ray signed a fresh four fight deal with the UFC in the middle of February.
The first of those four fights came soon afterwards, a split decision loss against Kajan Johnson. Currently he’s recovering from knee surgery, but expects to be back out again in the summer.
“I can’t fight for three weeks after the operation and then after that I’ll be doing rehab,” he said. “I’m hoping for a fight in July but that will depend on the recovery.
“It’s the UFC International Fight Week in Las Vegas around then and it would be good to be on that.”
Local fans of the sport have the opportunity to see some action in Kirkcaldy in mid-June on a card put together by Ray’s Braveheart MMA and Arena Fight Promotions named ‘The Quest for Rudis, Fight Night’.
On June 16 at Fife Ice Arena, there will be a potential 14 fights involving pro and amateur athletes from all over Scotland, as well as international fighters.
Tickets are available from Arena Strength and Conditioning Gym and on Skiddle.
Contact (01592) 382253 for table packages.
For further info on Ray’s training classes, visit www.facebook.com/StevenRayMMA or follow twitter.com/StevenRayMMA.