Randall Ray recently made headlines for a brutal calf kick finish, but that viral moment only scrapes the surface of the Australian veteran’s story.
The first thing you’ll notice when you search for Randall Ray is that there is no Randall Ray listed on the usual MMA databases. Officially, Ray is actually “Randall Rayment,” but it’s a name that he cast off a long time ago due to the ties it has to his difficult upbringing. As far as Ray is concerned, Rayment is his father’s name.
And he wants nothing to do with his father.
“The reason I like to go by Randall Ray, for one, it sounds a lot cooler than Rayment,” Ray recently told MMA Fighting. “But I’ve had a long history falling out with my old man and I’m not proud of that name. When me and my Mrs. do finally tie the knot, which we’re aiming to do within the next 12 months, I’m gonna take her last name (Rowan) just because I despise [my father’s] last name that much. I don’t want to carry it on. I’m not proud of that last name at all.”
Ray’s troubled past led him down a bad path of substance abuse and delinquent behavior, culminating in a dreadful incident when he was 21 in which he forcibly tried to extract penance from his father. Under the influence, Ray kidnapped his father and attempted to get him to confess to abusing him and his sister.
“When I was 21, I got done for take and detain, which is the adult version of kidnapping, but I kidnapped my old man in a plea to get him to admit what he did because that was the thing,” Ray said. “He never admitted to it and that’s all I wanted was a confession. Before that I was just a hooligan. I turned to drugs, I was addicted to marijuana and alcohol at 15 and I was just a delinquent. Then I just snapped one day and I took my old man hostage at 21.
“My old man, he treated us like sh*t,” Ray added. “He molested my sister. It was pretty rough. I went to jail at 21 for taking the law into my own hands as a vigilante or whatever you want to call it.”
This could have been the end of Ray’s story, but his punishment saw him spend more time in Christian rehab than in jail. He was imprisoned for six months and later the case was taken to Australia’s Supreme Court where Ray was fortunate to have his family there to vouch for him. Through their efforts, Ray was released on bail and ended up doing three years of rehab, eventually working for the same organization that helped him to turn his life around.
In 2009, he recorded a video for New South Wales’ One80TC organization in which he spoke about his addiction and what drove him to make such a terrible mistake (Ray’s testimonial begins at the 0:58 mark).
“My situation wasn’t the actual drug addiction, it was my hatred I had inside my heart,” Ray says in the video. “I remember I used to use and I would just sit and I would just dwell on all the hatred and all the things that I wanted to do to people. I wanted to kill someone. I had murder in my heart. I hated myself. I couldn’t even look at myself in the mirror because I’d see my old man and what he did to us as kids and what he did to my sister.”
It was during jail and rehab that he decided to become a fighter, having always admired martial artists. One issue with that plan: Ray had never been in a proper fight before in his life and had zero martial arts experience.
In a stroke of luck, Ray met boxing coach Ryan Betts through the program and it was Betts who encouraged him to pursue his goal. He was so encouraging that when both men needed a replacement opponent for an amateur boxing event, Betts ended up asking Ray to fight him in what was Ray’s boxing debut.
“I wanted to train. I’ve always been a fan, I’ve always admired professional fighters, professional fighting in general, and it just so happened that I met my boxing coach, who’s been a great friend and still to this day,” Ray said. “I’m 34 now, so 13 years, he got me an amateur fight on my first weekend release and I had an amateur boxing fight with no experience. I was only going to watch him fight as he was part of the church and he had done the rehab program before me, so a fighter pulled out and he calls me up and goes, ‘Mate, would you like to fight?’ I’m like, ‘Yeah, no worries. What do I do?’ ‘Go down and get a mouth guard and get a ball protector and that’s what you need.’
“Both of our fighters ended up pulling out—as they do in the amateurs all the time, as I have now learned that’s very common—and I ended up fighting [my coach]. We actually fought each other, it was my first fight, it was against my mentor. He’s been a great mentor to me ever since.”
From there, Ray threw himself into combat sports, bouncing between boxing and MMA for a while, but mostly focusing on boxing, which paid better at the time. He recalls facing a well-known Rugby League player early in his career and getting the chance to box at the famed Korakuen Hall in Tokyo for what he calls a “bullsh*t title” (Ray lost that fight by fifth-round knockout).
At 23, he started in jiu-jitsu, and at 24 he made his pro MMA debut. It took him nine years to win his first MMA title, a light heavyweight belt that he claimed with the aforementioned 20-second calf kick destruction of Dean Maxwell in February. For the first time in his career, Ray saw one of his highlights go international.
It helped that Ray (10-3) goes by the moniker of “The Limb Reaper,” a nickname that actually has more to do with his six career submission victories than his assault on his opponents’ legs.
“I wasn’t given the nickname, I made it up, I thought it was quite clever myself,” Ray said. “Due to most of my wins are by submission, I was varying my submissions, so I’ve got a leglock win, an armlock win, I was getting all different types of locks, so I gave it to myself.
“Little did I know it would come full circle and I would actually ruin someone’s leg. I didn’t think that would happen, but it’s just a weird coincidence.”
Calf kicks are all the rage right now, but even the most hardcore MMA fan might be impressed by Ray’s execution of the technique, which ended up injuring Maxwell’s fibia and tibia. Ray recalls being surprised when Maxwell stumbled off of the kick—just the second strike that Ray threw in the fight—and now that he knows the extent of the damage, he plans to not only make better use of the calf kick but be more wary of it being used against him.
“It’s forever gonna change how I throw kicks in the future,” Ray said. “Not only for what I throw, but I’m gonna be worried about my legs as well because like I said, I didn’t expect it. It was just a hard kick that landed and that was the last thing that comes to my mind. It will forever change the way I throw a leg kick.”
Ray hopes to fight for Urban Fight Night again soon (former UFC fighter Suman Mokhtarian is both Ray’s coach and the president of UFN) and he knows that the heat from his championship win has already begun to fade. Like many pro fighters, he hopes to someday get that call up to a major promotion, whether it be the UFC or Bellator, or a shorter flight to ONE Championship or RIZIN.
Currently, Ray works in construction to make ends meet and he wouldn’t mind adding a few big fight checks before his career is over.
“That would be a dream,” Ray said. “At this point in my life, I’m 34 years old, I just bought my first house about six months ago in the midst of the pandemic. I would love to sign on to a big company that could give me a good purse. That’s what I’m fighting for these days. It all started off just passing the time, then I was fighting for glory, and now I’m fighting to pay off my house.”