A dream UFC debut for Kirkcaldy’s Stevie Ray

Steven Ray after a winning debut in the UFC
Steven Ray after a winning debut in the UFC

After Stevie McCrorie’s victory on The Voice last week, now another Stevie from Kirkcaldy is the toast of the town after delivering an altogether different knock-out performance.

Stevie Ray completed a dream debut in his first UFC fight in Poland on Saturday by defeating home favourite Marcin Bandel in front of 10,000 fans at the Tauron Arena in Kraków.

Ray’s victory was all the more impressive given he was a late replacement for an injured fighter and only received his long-awaited Ultimate Fighting Championship call-up at just two weeks notice.

It meant the 25-year-old had to lose 33lbs in just 15 days in order to make the weight for the biggest fight of his life, which he managed to do, while he also risked missing the birth of his third child, although fiancee Natalie held on and is due to give birth to their daughter imminently.

Speaking from his Kirkcaldy home on Tuesday, an overwhelmed Ray told the Press that his successful UFC debut was still sinking in.

“It still feels weird - it’s all happened so quick,” he said.

“My whole MMA career has been for this - it’s just like a dream come true.”

“From sitting in the house two weeks ago eating birthday cake to now having fought and won in the UFC.

“Every morning when I wake up I’m reminding myself that it’s happened.

“My whole MMA career has been for this - it’s just like a dream come true.

“It’s just amazing, and I can’t wait to get back out there for my next fight.”

Ray, nicknamed Braveheart, dominated against submissions expert Bandel before eventually securing the victory via ground and pound TKO after 1 minute 35 seconds of round two

“I was confident going into it that I would be able to win but I was a bit surprised by how much I dominated the fight,” he said.

“I expected him to be a bit better on the ground but I out-grappled him at his own game.

“It was big task for me taking this fight and maybe missing out on my daughter’s birth, and I wasn’t sure if I could make the weight, but I was always going to try.

“I’m glad it was all worth it.”

Not only has Ray’s call-up to the UFC provided him with more financial security - he has struggled to make ends meet while pursuing his ultimate dream - it has also expanded his growing army of fans across Fife and Scotland.

“I can’t believe the support I’ve got,” he said. “Every fight I get a lot of messages but it’s been unbelievable this time.

“I’m still overwhelmed with the whole thing.”

The former St Andrews High School pupil now cannot wait for his second UFC showdown, which will take place on home soil at Glasgow’s Hydro Arena on July 18.

“I’ve been told I’ll be on the Glasgow card, so that’s the next challenge,” he said.

“It will be amazing to fight in the UFC in front of a home crowd.

“The crowd will be just as big as it was in Poland, only a lot louder.”