(Photo via RaySefo.com)
By Elias Cepeda
I’ve been speaking with Ray Sefo for a few minutes now and it doesn’t seem like he understands my question. I asked the multiple time Muay Thai world champion and successful kickboxing and MMA coach why he ever felt the need to step out of his comfort zone and fight under MMA rules.
The former K-1 star, now in his early forties, has fought three times in MMA and will once more tonight on the World Series of Fighting 4 card in California. The striking legend is also the President of WSOF.
I asked Sefo the question and he began to tell me of how he was introduced to Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and MMA by his friend Royce Gracie, the first ever UFC champion, back in 2000 in Japan where they were both competing at the time. He then went on to describe his next step into MMA, then his next, but I felt I had to politely interrupt and reiterate my initial question. I wasn’t asking for a step by step process of how he got into MMA but why he ever decided to.
He had made a name and good living from kickboxing. He transitioned into a full-time career coaching other elite fighters and now Sefo is a top executive at a major MMA organization.
He understands me quite well. Turns out that I was the one that didn’t understand Ray Sefo. “Listen, I’ve always fought,” he explains patiently.
“I’ve been boxing since I was a kid. I did Kung Fu for years. Back home when I started kickboxing my family all thought it wasn’t that big of a deal, they were suspicious of it because boxing was so big. But then they saw me fight and their minds changed. I love to learn and love to develop and challenge myself as a martial artist and fighter. MMA was the next natural step in that.”
I had been confused. To Ray Sefo, fighting isn’t a means of procuring and then protecting status at all costs. He wasn’t afraid of stepping out of his strength and comfort zone and fighting MMA. He isn’t afraid to continue to fight MMA now, in his forties and against younger opponents and risk losing.
For Ray Sefo, fighting is breathing.