Kicking off his 2020 with a second round submission win over Josh Streacker at LFA 80 in January, the year was looking promising for welterweight Tyler Ray.
Having won four in a row prior to the victory over Streacker, Ray was eager to keep his momentum rolling when the novel coronavirus not only delayed his return to fighting, but cost him about at LFA 84 in July due to his exposure to someone who tested positive to Covid-19.
“It was super frustrating, especially when I was getting ready to fly out to South Dakota the next day,” Ray told MMAWeekly.com. “Dealing with that was frustrating and a minor setback. My thing is staying in my mindset and controlling the controlables, and all of that was out of my control, so the only thing I could do was get right back to work.
“I didn’t have any symptoms. I haven’t gotten antibody tested yet. I was already back in work, continuing fight camp like it was another day and doing what I could do to better myself and be prepared for anything coming down the road.”
While Ray is frustrated with what happened in July, when it comes to his win over Streacker in January, he couldn’t be more pleased.
“I’m very happy with my performance back in January,” said Ray. “I went out there, stuck to my game plan, and ended up getting the finish in the second round. I was very happy with my performance and I’m excited to show more in my next fight.”
This Friday in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, Ray (6-1) finally returns to action to face Steve Jones (6-1) in a main card 170-pound bout at LFA 89.
“I feel like I just need to go out there and fight my fight,” Ray said. “Steve has good boxing and power. I respect him. I think he’s a dangerous opponent, a respectable opponent, but my game plan will show on Friday night that I have answers for anything.
“I don’t really look for any specific way to finish the fight, I just go out and fight, and constantly adjust as the fight goes on. I’ve just got to out and fight my fight, and everything will handle itself after that on Friday.”
For Ray, the remainder of his 2020 could be determined by his fight with Jones, and as such he is not looking beyond the fight, though he does see big things in store for himself by year’s end.
“I believe and know that I will be signed to the UFC this year, a lot sooner than not,” said Ray. “That is always in the back of my head, but every fighter will tell you that, the end goal is the UFC and UFC championship, and if they say they’re not working to that they’re lying. But also I am not looking past anybody in front of me.
“I don’t care who it is, I treat every opponent as if they were the UFC champion. I take them just as serious, and I treat them as if they are just as dangerous as anybody else in the fight game. I am expecting to be signed by the UFC, but Friday night is the only thing I’m focused on now.”