Believe it or not, an actual UFC championship bout with record-breaking potential sits in the co-main event underneath an interim lightweight title fight at UFC 216.
Dana White and the UFC have their reasons, of course. But, it does seem strange that Demetrious Johnson vs Ray Borg, just one month after their main event clash at UFC 215 was postponed, will set the stage for Tony Ferguson and Kevin Lee.
As strange as it is, it’s the right decision by the UFC. After being scheduled to headline UFC 215, Borg was forced to withdraw from the main event after suffering from an illness. The UFC rescheduled the fight as soon as possible, and with UFC 216 already having the main event in place, it makes sense just to slot it in underneath. After all, Ferguson and Lee shouldn’t be penalized for Borg’s illness. One might wonder why Demetrious Johnson must suffer, but “Mighty Mouse” happily agreed to the fast turnaround as offered by the UFC because both he and Borg had just endured a long camp.
Demetrious “Mighty Mouse” Johnson isn’t your ordinary champion. Since claiming the newly created UFC Flyweight Championship five years ago, Johnson defeated any and all opponents that the UFC could place in front of him. With title defenses against over Joseph Benavidez, John Dodson (twice), Henry Cejudo and five others, Demetrious Johnson has now tied Anderson Silva’s record for most consecutive title defenses (10). Johnson’s goal was always to smash Silva’s long-standing record and a win over Ray Borg this weekend will do just that.
Nothing has changed. He got sick; it happens. I’m happy the UFC got it rescheduled super-fast and I’m still just worried about myself.
“Mighty Mouse” enters this fight with Ray Borg after one of his most polished performances to date. At UFC on FOX 24, Johnson outclassed Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu specialist Wilson Reis from the very beginning before submitting him with an armbar in the final seconds of round three. To put the win in perspective, FightMetric shows that Johnson connected with 58% of his significant strikes (108 of 186), while Reis managed to land just 9% of his strikes (16 of 168).
Before UFC on FOX 24 was a title defense against the winner of The Ultimate Fighter Season 24, Tim Elliott. Think about this for a moment; the UFC dedicated an entire season of their reality TV show to bring in flyweight champions from all over the world in an attempt to defeat Demetrious Johnson. After a surprisingly competitive first round, in which Elliott had snatched the neck of Johnson, “Mighty Mouse” controlled the next four rounds with ease and cruised to a unanimous decision victory.
Ray Borg may be the eleventh man to step inside the UFC’s octagon and try to strip the title away from his hands, but he enters UFC 216 confident that he won’t be another stepping stone for the champion. Remarkably, Borg was already talking about giving Johnson an automatic rematch in the week leading up to UFC 215.
He’s one of the greatest for a reason. He’s defended his belt 10 times. There would be no reason why, if I beat him, I wouldn’t fight him again. I imagine a great champion like himself will get an automatic rematch.
Borg is undoubtedly one of the most promising talents in the UFC’s flyweight division, but there’s a noticeable gap between this ‘rising star’ and a champion who is attempting to defend his title for the eleventh consecutive time. “The Tazmexican Devil” is the most worthy challenger, though, and that’s simply because Johnson has defeated anyone else worth mentioning.
The 24-year-old Borg has earned his shot after unanimous decision wins over Louis Smolka and Jussier Formiga. While Borg dominated Smolka in the grappling exchanges, mostly thanks to his freakish athleticism, the victory against Formiga didn’t come easy. After splitting the first two rounds, Formiga was on the way to winning the third and final round before Borg amazingly scrambled out of Formiga’s body lock and ended up on top of his opponent. Borg finished the round with heavy ground and pound that would sway the judges and see his hand raised after the three rounds.
As much as everyone is quick to mention Demetrious Johnson’s lightning-fast attacks and ever-improving grappling, it’s his defensive ability which sets him apart from the rest.
Ray Borg was able to tag Jussier Formiga with powerful counter uppercuts and out-scramble Louis Smolka, but he’ll enter this fight with the champion disadvantaged in all areas of the sport.
I’m expecting Demetrious Johnson to start carefully while measuring the distance and getting his timing down before attempting a showstopping finish to not only break Anderson Silva’s record but do it in style.