Stevie Ray beat one of the 2022 leaders for Submission of the Year in June when he submitted Anthony Pettis with a modified twister to punch his ticket to the PFL playoffs.
Ray is set to face Pettis again six weeks later when he faces the former UFC lightweight champion on Friday at PFL 7. The upcoming rematch is one of the semi-finals of the four-man lightweight playoff bracket. , Ray stopped Hour of MMA to reflect on his first fight performance and wreck one of the most deft submission moves ever seen in high-level MMA over the past few years.
“It can hurt your ribs, but it’s also kind of a spine,” Ray explained this week when asked about Pettis’ finish during a studio appearance on Hour of MMA. “So, you have to think, what is a twister? This is a curvature of the spine. And then when I have the body triangle with the leg inside – because I don’t just have the body triangle all the way on his back, like I’m trying to get a rear naked choke, it’s almost like I’m on my side. a little of it.
“So, his upper spine turns to the left; his lower body, or lower spine, is still facing to the right due to the blockage I placed on his lower spine. And then you control it.
“All my workout partners are watching, which we probably know for sure [what was happening]” Ray added.
Former UFC standout fighter Ray said he learned this unique move years ago while coaching Xtreme Couture in Las Vegas. Someone hit him with it during training, and Ray had no idea what was going on until he suddenly passed out due to “terrible pain” in his spine. Since then, it has become one of his favorite tricks with which he surprises people on the mats. He even hit one on Craig Evers during a Polaris event in 2021.
However, his Pettis finish was especially clutch. Due to the way the PFL scoring system works, Ray needed a first or second round stoppage to make his way to the playoffs after losing his PFL debut against Alex Martinez. Luckily, he got dealt in the second round. Now he and Pettis are in a rematch for all the marbles, with the winner advancing to the final to compete for the $1 million grand prize.
Pettis has since attributed the loss to playing it safe and fighting to not lose as the former UFC champion had already cemented a playoff spot. But Ray doesn’t buy into it.
“He’s clearly saying this to try and comfort himself, I think,” Ray said. “Whether he fully believes it or not, I mean when you are in the octagon or in a fight with another guy, no matter what the circumstances are, you are trying to win. Because he said he was playing it safe. Maybe he was a little overcautious, but he still beat me. [shots]he was still trying to finish me off. He hit me with everything he had and I was still rushing forward. I feel that even before the surrender, things were not going as well as he did.
“And then, obviously, if I hadn’t gotten the submission, I would have been on his back – and I would still have been on his back. If you like, I let him pass to the guard just because I made this submission. So I would still be on his back with the body triangle, probably punch him in the face and win the second round.”
Ultimately, the situation for the 32-year-old Scot was rather accidental. Due to circumstances beyond his control, Ray and Pettis were the last lightweights to fight before the playoffs were called. This meant that they also had the shortest time to prepare for the semi-finals. And that’s fine with Ray.
“I would say it worked better for me,” Ray said. “Because he was injured. I know he said he wasn’t, but he was obviously a bit injured after that fight. He lay holding his ribs, and I know how cruel this submission is.
“So he’ll find out—he’ll find out himself—that for the first few weeks at this fight camp, he’ll probably stay home and rest. You can’t go straight into hard sparring, body punching, wrestling and wrestling when I just did what I did to his rib. And he will know it in his head. And obviously I remember listening to an interview where he said, “That confidence comes from your work ethic and how hard you trained.” When he comes out on Friday, he will be wrestling with some things in his mind knowing that he couldn’t do everything.”