Stevie Ray pulled off one of 2022’s front-runners for Submission of the Year in June when he submitted Anthony Pettis with a modified tornado to punch his ticket to the PFL playoffs.
Ray is now set to face Pettis over again six weeks later when he meets the previous UFC light-weight champion on Friday at PFL 7. The instant rematch is among the semifinals of the promotion’s four-man light-weight playoff bracket, and forward of the matchup, Ray stopped by The MMA Hour to replicate on his efficiency within the first battle and break down one of many slickest submissions seen in high-level MMA over the previous a number of years.
“It might damage your ribs, but it surely’s type of backbone as properly,” Ray defined this week when requested concerning the Pettis end throughout an in-studio look on The MMA Hour. “So that you’ve acquired to assume, like, what’s a tornado? It’s twisting the backbone. After which after I’ve acquired the physique triangle with the leg on the within — as a result of I’ve not acquired the physique triangle simply fully on his again, like attempting to get a rear-naked choke, it’s nearly like I’m facet on him slightly bit.
“So his higher backbone is popping to the left; his decrease physique, or decrease backbone, remains to be going through the fitting, due to the lock I’ve acquired on his decrease backbone. After which so that you management him.
“All my coaching companions watching that we’re in all probability understanding precisely [what was happening],” Ray added.
A former UFC standout, Ray stated he discovered the distinctive submission years in the past whereas coaching a Xtreme Couture in Las Vegas. Somebody hit him with it throughout a coaching session and Ray had no thought what was occurring till he was all of a sudden tapping out due to the “horrendous ache” in his backbone. Since then, it’s turn into one among his favourite strikes to shock folks with on the mats. He even hit one on Craig Ewers during a Polaris event in 2021.
His end of Pettis was notably clutch although. Due to the way in which PFL’s level system works, Ray wanted both a first- or second-round stoppage to sneak into the playoffs after dropping his debut PFL match towards Alex Martinez. Fortunately, a second-round submission is precisely what he acquired. Now it’s him and Pettis in a rematch for all of the marbles, with the winner advancing to the finals to vie for the bracket’s $1 million grand prize.
Pettis has since attributed the loss to him taking part in it protected and preventing to not lose, as the previous UFC champion had already locked up his playoff spot. However Ray isn’t shopping for it.
“He’s clearly saying that to attempt to reassure himself I believe,” Ray stated. “Whether or not he believes it totally or not, I imply, if you’re within the octagon or in a battle with one other man, it doesn’t matter what the circumstances are, you’re attempting to win. As a result of he was saying he’s taking part in it protected. Perhaps he was taking part in it slightly bit protected, however he nonetheless hitting me with [shots], he was nonetheless attempting to complete me. He hit me with every part he had and I used to be nonetheless pushing ahead. I really feel like even earlier than the submission, that it wasn’t going in addition to he’s making out because it was.
“After which clearly, if I didn’t get the submission, I had his again — and I might’ve nonetheless been on his again. I solely allowed him to return up into the guard, if you happen to like, as a result of I’ve executed this submission. So I’d nonetheless be on his again with a physique triangle, in all probability punching him within the face, profitable the second spherical.”
In the end, it’s all reasonably fortuitous how the state of affairs labored out for the 32-year-old Scotsman. Due to circumstances exterior of his management, Ray and Pettis had been the final lightweights to battle earlier than the playoffs had been set. That meant additionally they had the shortest turnaround time to organize for the semifinals. And that fits Ray simply positive.
“I might say it’s labored out higher for me,” Ray stated. “As a result of he was injured. I do know he stated he wasn’t, however he was clearly a bit injured after that battle. He was down, holding his ribs, and I understand how brutal that submission is.
“So he’ll know — he’ll know himself that for the primary few weeks of this battle camp, he’ll in all probability have been sitting at residence resting. You’ll be able to’t go straight right into a sparring onerous and taking physique photographs and grappling and wrestling after I’ve simply executed what I’ve executed to his rib. And he’ll know that in his head. And clearly, I bear in mind listening to an interview he stated earlier than, ‘That confidence comes out of your work ethic and the way onerous you’ve educated.’ He’s going to be battling some stuff in his thoughts when he walks out on Friday, understanding that he’s not been in a position to do every part.”