MMA4Real was able to catch up with another one of North Carolina's MMA warriors in Ray "The Razor" Irizarry. Ray is a veteran of several promotions here in North Carolina and was kind enough to give us his thoughts on a variety of things. Ray speaks on the possibility of turning pro, his children training in MMA, who he would like to fight next, and much more. Let's get right to it:
Kelvin Hunt-Ray, tell us a little about yourself, how long you've been involved with MMA, and how you got started in the sport?
Ray Irizarry-A little about me huh? Well, I am 32 yrs old; I have a wonderful wife with three awesome kids. My daughter is 14 and my sons are 11 and 3. I live in Kernersville NC. I have been involved physically with MMA since 2002. I remember watching UFC 1 and thinking to myself that these guys are crazy, but also thinking that it looked like a lot of fun. Little did I know that one day I would be one of the crazy ones fighting in the cage. I am a very competitive person and as a kid always wanted to strive to do the best in whatever I was doing. Football, baseball, it didn't matter. I have always had martial arts in my life through my father. He holds a third degree black belt in Tae Kwon Do (The old school style), Shorin Ryu and kick boxing. He also competed on ESPN, in kick boxing, where he won a Bantam Weight title. I was trained by my father as a young child, but lost interest as I got older. Around 2001 or 2002 my brother in law Mike and I got together to watch an MMA event on pay per view. We decided that we wanted to get into something and went to visit a local BJJ school. I attended one class and held my own with a brown belt instructor, in a round robin grappling session which apparently made him a little upset. He decided that he would take out his frustration on the next new guy and put him in a really tight neck crank to where the guy yelled out. That alone turned me away from that school, so the search continued. I soon found my home at the Sportsplex in Kernersville. The guys were extremely nice and were more than willing to answer any questions I had and share their knowledge. I stayed there about 5 years or so obtaining my Black Belt in AMMA (American Mixed Martial Arts) learning traditional boxing and kickboxing as well. I competed locally in boxing and kickboxing matches which were a blast, but something was missing. I was on the internet one day and found a site to sign up for MMA, which I did, and a guy from Colosseum Combat in Indiana got in touch with me. He was doing a show in Huntsville Alabama and asked if I was interested. Without a second thought I said yes and in August of 2006 I made my debut.
Kelvin Hunt-Good stuff and finding the right school is definitely important. What would be your favorite aspect of MMA and why?
Ray Irizarry-To be honest, I love it all. I love throwing leather as well as the technical chess match of the ground game. But if I have to pick one, I LOVE to strike. It may sound a little weird, but I don't mind getting punched in the face. I may actually like it a little bit......hahahahaha. But seriously, when that first punch is thrown it's like clocking in to work; only you get to punch your boss in the face, repeatedly. Being one of the little guys in the sport, fighting at 145, I have been told that I hit like a heavyweight, so to me that is an ultimate compliment.
Kelvin Hunt-You are kind of like Randy Couture in that you started competing in MMA later in life, compared to most fighters. I know you are contemplating on turning pro. At age 32, what will be the deciding factor on you doing so, and what do you want to accomplish in this sport?
Ray Irizarry-Randy is honestly one of my heroes in this sport. If I can accomplish a fraction of what he has done, I would be happy. I think the biggest factor in my turning pro is going to be my family. It is something that I will have to sit down and talk with my wife about, and we'll make that decision together. I know that there is a very slim chance that I will make it to one of the big shows, but there is still a chance. I will fight as long as I physically can, because mentally I will always think I can. I think that the biggest accomplishment in this sport is to hold a title and be recognized as the best in a division. So that is my goal. And it will happen, count on that.
Kelvin Hunt-I know you have a background in boxing and kickboxing. Tell us a little about the team you train with, and what's the best thing bout training with those guys?
Ray Irizarry-I recently joined up with Team Kalibur based out of South Carolina. I was offered the chance to become Co-owner and recruit here in North Carolina, and I happily accepted. They are an awesome group of guys, just like brothers. We are still in the early stages of developing our team here, but it's coming along well. We have also just acquired a state of the art facility in Greenwood South Carolina. We are going to have Thai bags, throw dummies, grappling mats and a 20' octagon cage. Our facility will simply be named "FIGHT" and will be opening in the near future. I have been training with some really great fighters in the past five to six months or so. Daniel Asher who holds a Black Belt in BJJ and does Sanda has been an excellent addition to training partners. I also work out with Laban Probst and the guys at Team ROC in Greensboro. They are all extremely talented and well versed guys.
Kelvin Hunt-Now you just fought about 2 weeks ago. When do you anticipate getting back in action, and is there anyone out there that you would like to fight. If so, why?
Ray Irizarry-I usually like to fight about once a month, but as I said earlier I am working on getting Team Kalibur situated here in NC, so I will be taking a little time off to get that going. Not too much time though, if I don't fight I get a little cranky from withdrawals. I have been in talks with Marcello at Elite and fighting for them, which I am really excited about, so we'll see. There is someone that I want to fight, but......I'm not one to publicly throw out names or be sore about a loss. He knows who he is. I won't get into the specifics, but his win is tainted and we all know it. Lightning will not strike twice in his favor, and you can only dodge so many bullets before you eventually get hit. Other than that I will fight anyone.
Kelvin Hunt-I'll stay tuned for the fireworks! I ask most of the North Carolina fighters this. What's the MMA scene here in North Carolina like in your opinion, and how is it to fight in your home state? Also, if you could name one local fighter that has all the tools to go to the next level, who would it be?
Ray Irizarry-I think that the MMA scene in NC has some great potential. Like anything that is new it can use a little tweaking to be better and better. I have been a part of some really great events and some not so much. I believe that once it has been around a little while longer it will only grow and get bigger and better. It is an awesome experience to fight in North Carolina. To see friends and family at an event showing support is a great feeling. Man, I was thinking about this one, and I really can't single out just one local fighter that I think has all that tools to go to that next level. There are some really great fighters coming out of NC. Fighters like Joe Carroll, Scott Monish, Robert Moore, Brandle Clary, and Brad Cooke to name a few. These are just a few guys to keep your eye on. North Carolina MMA is on the map bro, watch out.
Kelvin Hunt-Cool, I'm familiar with some of those names. Ok, let's switch gears a little. Tell us something about Ray that few people would know about? Also, how'd you get your nickname "Razor"?
Ray Irizarry-Very few people know that I am a weather geek. I love the stuff. Not the sunny blue sky cool breeze filled days, but the blackening sky with hail and wind stuff. My wife says that I should have been a weatherman. I find tornadoes and hurricanes fascinating along with lightning, thunder, hail....All of it. When storms develop I am on the computer checking them out and constantly watching the sky and clouds. So I guess more than a few people know now........
When I first started training I had very limited skills in the way of boxing. Growing up when I would get into a fight I would stand in front of the other guy and just throw punches until my arms were about to fall off or we hit the ground. When I started at the Sportsplex I did the same thing during sparring sessions. It didn't matter if the guy I was sparring was 5' 100lbs or 6'5" 280lbs, I would stay right in the pocket and bang it out. I was soon given the nickname of "Roughhouse". One day we had a visiting boxing coach from another gym come visit and he watched me spar. After the session he sat me down to give me a bit of advice. What he told me was that I had very impressive hand speed, but that if I wanted to keep my head on my shoulders I needed to work on cutting angles. I didn't have a clue about cutting angles, so this was something I set out to learn. For months I worked on my footwork and head movement, cutting angles and keeping my head on my shoulders. One day while I was sparring, using what I had worked on, a comment was made that I was cutting sharp angles, like a razor. That kind of stuck and Ray "The Razor" was born.
Kelvin Hunt-That's crazy. I do the same thing in regards to thunderstorms! I understand you have 3 kids. Would you let them train in MMA? If so, what's the earliest you would allow them to train?
Ray Irizarry-I actually do train my kids in MMA. Not as serious and vicious as I train, but they know quite a bit. My 11 yr old wants to compete in grappling and kickboxing, so we are working on getting him ready for that. He has already expressed a desire to fight in the cage when he is old enough, so we have time to kill before he can do that. He is a good grappler and is coming along very well with his hands. A few things to work on and he will be ready. My three yr old, forget about it. With him it is always "you want to fight me dad". At 2 yrs old he knew how to throw on a textbook armbar, he can now throw a four punch combo that I have seen adults stumble over, understands inside and outside leg kicks, single and double leg takedowns, ground and pound and has a very tight guillotine choke. So yes I am allowing them to experience MMA training, and my youngest started at 2. I should also mention that my 14 yr old daughter has a nice jab cross combo, but she mostly likes MMA for the guys.
Kelvin Hunt-That's cool. I think I'm let my daughter train in BJJ or something when she gets older. Since you are a 145'er I have to ask. Who wins Mike Brown vs. Urijah Faber 2 and why?
Ray Irizarry-Man, I am a HUGE fan of both of these guys. I like Urijah's fresh care free style and top notch work ethic, and I like Browns no nonsense get in there and bang style. You kind of have the best of both worlds there. They are both coming off of very impressive wins over Pulver for Urijah and Garcia for Brown. I honestly can't pick a clear cut winner in this fight. I hope we see a 5 round war between these two, but I don't think so.
Kelvin Hunt-Any parting thoughts, and/or anyone you would like to thank?
Ray Irizarry-First off I want to thank my lord and savior Jesus Christ; I couldn't do what I do if it were not for him. I want to thank my wife Melody and my kids Samantha, Austin and Brayden for understanding why I have to train and thinking that I am the best fighter in the world. Thanks to Team Kalibur for adding me to their family and supporting me in my fights. Thanks to all my friends and family that support me and come see me fight: Mike R, Ricky, Laban, John S, Daniel, Johnny, Bruce, Billy, and everyone else, you know who you are. Many thanks to MMA4Real for taking time to do this interview with me. What you do is awesome and keep up the excellent work.
MMA4Real would like to thank you for taking the time to grant us an interview. Good luck with Team Kalibur, and good luck whenever you enter the cage again. We hope to speak with you again.