Sitting on a 5-2 UFC record, Steven Ray has went the last seven months without a fight. Thanks to new management in Ali Abdelaziz, Ray says he's back in the game.
Ray last took on Paul Felder in July 2017, but hasn't competed since. He told Fightful.com's James Lynch that while in between bouts, he also had issues with his management that led him to Ali.
"Since I fought out my contract, I've been in London for a good seven months. I kind of fell out with my management, we decided to go our separate ways. I saw a lot of social media saying Ali was one of the great managers, saw these fighters praising him. He looked like he'd done some good stuff. We got in contact and I was telling him what my situation was and he was willing to help me out. He wasn't sure if he could take me on to manage me because he's got a busy roster. The more we got talking, I saw what he was willing to do without me even being his fighter," said Ray.
When one of Ali's fighters in Rustam Khabilov was forced out of a planned fight at UFC London against Kajan Johnson, Abdelaziz knew who should get the call. The opportunity came after months, and after Ray had other MMA offers.
"He had to break the news to Sean Shelby that Rustam Khabilov was injured and was able to replace him. I didn't realize what fighting out my contract meant. I thought it just meant we were fighting until we got the money my old management said I was worth. I got an offer from ACB wanting me to fight in November. I was out of a contract but I was expecting to get a (UFC) contract," said Ray.
Ray would go on to say that ACB contacted him again, but Sean Shelby was constantly telling him he was "busy." Ray questioned whether or not he even wanted to compete again if it were outside the UFC before eventually landing on UFC London.
In the full interview, the Patron Saint of MMA, Steven Ray (21-7) discusses his upcoming fight against Kajan Johnson (22-12-1) at UFC Fight Night 127 on Mar. 17.Steven also talks about signing a new UFC contract, his training camp for this fight and what he's watching on Netflix.