Ahead of his clash with Jussier Formiga, top ten ranked flyweight Ray Borg gave his assessment on the 125lb division, and it’s champion: Demetrious ‘Mighty Mouse’ Johnson.
Eighth ranked UFC flyweight Ray Borg (10-2) has a chance to elevate himself into title contention this weekend thanks to his match-up with third ranked Jussier Formiga da Silva (19-4). The 23-year-old enters Saturday’s UFC Fight Night: Belfort vs. Gastelum after the most impressive victory of his career, a lopsided decision victory over Louis Smolka at UFC 207.
Borg is now 4-2 in the UFC’s flyweight division; a division that has long suffered from fan disinterest. Ambivalence towards the 125lb division was perhaps most apparent when, at UFC 174: Johnson vs. Bagautinov in Vancouver, British Columbia, fans reportedly began leaving the arena during Demetrious Johnson’s successful title defense versus Ali Bagautinov.
Borg recognizes that his division has suffered from fan apathy for a while, but he believes things are beginning to change. And he sees recent UFC roster moves as a sign that the flyweight field is about to get much more interesting.
“They’ve cut some high-level guys; like Kyoji Horiguchi, Zach Makovsky and Ali Bagautinov,” Borg said to Bloody Elbow. “Props to those guys for keeping their spots for so long at the top of the division, but they weren’t good enough to beat Demetrious. They were only good enough to stay in that high spot.”
Borg believes the UFC are bringing new faces through the division by giving young flyweights a chance to take on established veterans. An example of this is his own match-up with Formiga, as well as Sergio Pettis being booked against Henry Cejudo. He also believes the signing of former WSOF champion Magomed Bibulatov will be a boon for the division’s watchability moving forwards.
“The division is finally getting more exciting, in terms of new people and new competition,” said Borg. “It’s had to adapt and I think it’s going to be a little bit more entertaining than it has been in the past few years.”
The most noticeable instance of the UFC trying to freshen up the flyweight division was the launch of The Ultimate Fighter: Tournament of Champions. That edition of the long running-reality series/fighting tournament recruited 125lb champions from organizations such Titan FC, RFA, and Shooto and promised the show’s winner a shot at UFC champion ‘Mighty Mouse’ Johnson. Tim Elliott would win that tournament. He lost a unanimous decision to Johnson shortly afterwards, on the series’ December 3rd live finale.
Though he’s open to the UFC making changes to benefit the 125lb division, when Borg first heard what was at stake on that season of TUF, he was shocked. “At first I thought it was crazy,” revealed Borg. “I really did, because it was like ‘Hey man, congratulations you won The Ultimate Fighter, now you get to fight the best pound-for-pound fighter on the planet,’ so at first I thought it was nuts.”
Borg said that once he found out Tim Elliott, a UFC veteran, was on the series – and that he was doing well – his resistance to the show tempered. “Tim Elliott has been in the UFC and has fought high-level dudes, so I felt better about the show knowing a guy like that was going to get the title shot. If anyone else would have won the show, Demetrious would have made quick work out of them.”
Mighty Mouse currently sits number one in the UFC’s pound-for-pound rankings, ahead of Conor McGregor, Daniel Cormier, and Jose Aldo. He’s never lost at 125lbs and he’s defended his championship belt nine times in a row; only Anderson Silva has more consecutive title defenses (10).
Having such a dominant champion atop the division suits Borg just fine. “The fact that he’s the first champion, and the only champion, is what makes fighting at flyweight so exciting,” said Borg. “It’s cool if he loses the belt to somebody else, and then I fight for it and I win it, but to be the one to takeout – which is my plan in the near future – Might Mouse; the guy who has been unbeatable, who has ruled the division from the start, that lights a big fire under you.”
Before he can tackle the enormous challenge that is Demetrious Johnson, Borg will have to take care of Jussier Formiga. Their fight goes down on the main card of UFC Fight Night 106 this Saturday, live on FOX Sports 1.
“It’s gonna be a show of the young hungry lion versus the old one,” said Borg. “It’s gonna be fun because you’re going to see someone who wants it more against someone who is just kinda just hanging in there.”