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Steven Ray has retired from mixed martial arts at 30 years old.
The Braveheart MMA founder revealed his decision in a video on Facebook, citing a knee injury as the motivating factor behind the announcement. Ray said that those knee issues caused him chronic pain in recent years and prevented him from training as consistently as he would like despite undergoing three separate surgeries.
“Going back, before that, for my last three fights my knee’s been pretty badly damaged,” Ray said. “Those that train with me or are close to me know that I was having to spend a lot of days off training, icing my knee, when my opponent was probably training.
“It was f—-ing with my head taking days off and not going into the fight as confident. A lot of stuff I wasn’t able to do. For example, really struggling to wrestle and throw any kicks, so I had to really adapt all of my training.”
Although a major corrective procedure remains a possibility, Ray decided it wasn’t worth the lengthy rehabilitation process it could require if he was able to come back.
“Basically I’m retiring from MMA because of my knee,” Ray said. “There was options to maybe get an osteotomy surgery, which means cutting the bone and putting plates and stuff in, but some athletes never, ever return after that because it’s quite a big surgery. It’s around a year of rehab as well and just at this stage of my career I wasn’t wanting to go through that.”
Ray ends his career with a 23-9 mark that includes a 7-4 stint in the UFC. He last competed at UFC Fight Night 162 in October 2019, where he earned a majority decision triumph against Michael Johnson. Prior to that, Ray was a lightweight titleholder in the Cage Warriors organization.
“I’ve dedicated my whole life to it and it’s hard to enjoy your life when the only thing you’re doing is putting all your time into fighting,” Ray said. “But I’ve enjoyed it. I’ve seen loads of different countries with the UFC, I’ve fought in different places, I’ve loved MMA. It’s still gonna be a part of my whole life, obviously.”