Following an undefeated 2019, welterweight Tyler Ray was looking to keep his momentum going when he faced Josh Streacker at LFA 80 this past January.
Pat way through the second round, Ray was able to finish Streacker on the ground with a rear naked choke, but it’s not his grappling game that he is most happy with when it comes to the performance.
“I felt like I was looking a lot better and more comfortable on my feet in this fight,” Ray told MMAWeekly.com. “Everybody thinks I’m just a wrestler, but I haven’t really been able to showcase my striking yet, so the last fight I felt like I really got to show that I’m a lot more comfortable on my feet than people think I am.
“(Streacker’s) a tough striker with a lot of knockouts, so I was just trying to keep the pressure on him and get the takedown and get the submission. It ended up happening in the second round. I’m happy to get another finish; and a submission at that.”
Following the win over Streacker, Ray was hoping to fight again sooner than later when the novel coronavirus hit, forcing event cancellations. Ray was able to use the time productively by being able to focus on developing his game rather than focusing on a fight camp.
“All I could do was put my nose down to the grindstone and just get better,” said Ray. “The past few months I’ve done nothing but train. We’ve still been getting sessions in with a smaller group at different times of the day in different locations.
“I’ve been able to keep training and really work on technique when you don’t have that stress about having another fight. You can really just learn and take the time to study, when most of the time you’ve got a fight you’ve got to put time into strength and conditioning and cardio and all of that, so sometimes technique gets pushed to the side a little bit. It’s been nice to just work on technique and film study and all of that.”
Ray (6-1) will look to keep his five-fight winning streak going when he faces Maycon Mendonca (8-4) in a main card 170-pound bout at LFA 84 on Saturday in Sioux Falls, S.D.
“(Mendonca’s) a taller guy with range and good striking, but I feel I’m the better grappler, the better wrestler, I’m stronger, more explosive and am going to be faster,” Ray said. “His whole game plan is to keep me at range – he doesn’t want me close – so I have to keep the pressure on him, put on a high pace, and he won’t be able to keep up with my pace for three rounds.
“The game plan is the same as always: I’m a pressure fighter; that’s what I do; I come out and put on a pace, and guys break.”
While Ray would like to punch his ticket to the next level in 2020, his mind is strictly set on LFA 84 and nothing beyond that.
“I’m always a guy who doesn’t like to plan too far ahead,” said Ray. “I’m not looking past (Mendonca). He’s a good opponent. I respect him as an opponent, so I’m not going to take anything for granted or look past him at all. Right now my focus is July 10 and go out there and get another finish, do my job, then I’ll worry about the rest of the year.”