Stevie Ray is set to be part of one of the biggest weeks in UFC history with the Kirkcaldy fighter expecting the most difficult time of his career.
The undefeated 26-year-old is one of a host of fighters on a July billing as the fighting group holds three cards on consecutive nights in Las Vegas, building up to its blockbuster UFC 200.
Ray has been matched with 21-year-old Melbourne lightweight Jake Matthews at the The Ultimate Fighter Finale one day before the headline event.
And after three impressive fights so far in his UFC career, Ray knows his next battle on July 8 represents a step up in class as he looks to keep up his momentum.
He said: “It’s definitely going to be by toughest fight.
“But that’s the way it should be – your next fight should always be your hardest or you’re either not pushing yourself or not going in the right direction.
“He’s been in with some tough guys and is a bit like me, an up and coming fighter.
“We both have similar styles too, so it’s going to be an exciting fight.”
Ray is still at home and in the early stages of his preparation for the fight, but will soon make his way to the Tristar training base in Canada.
And it’s a camp he’s looking forward to, having recently recuperated from a knee operation in December.
It was a procedure the Fife UFC star reckons was well worth it.
“I’ve gone through all the rehab and feel 100 per cent,” said Ray.
“I definitely feel better for having it done.
“Over the last few years, I’ve had my knee popping out when I’ve made certain Ju Jitsu moves but this has stopped all that.
“It’s helped make me a lot more flexible.”
Ray is a former Cage Warriors and BAMMA champion who kicked off his UFC career in style.
In addition to a TKO win over Marcin Bandel and a decision victory over Mickael Lebout, he picked up a ‘performance of the night’ bonus for a first-round TKO win over Leonardo Mafra in Glasgow.
Having already fought in front of a home crowd on that Scottish UFC bill, the big night experience he’s collected will stand him in good stead for the biggest night of his fledgling career.
“Las Vegas is the home of fighting,” he said.
“It’s something I’m looking forward to.
“I’ve been there three or four times already which will help me.
“I’m comfortable with the place and can already imagine my walk to the ring on the night in my head.”