An incredibly unexpected flyweight matchup takes center stage to open the main event in Colorado this weekend on the 14th. It's oddly nicknamed prospect vs. prosaically nicknamed veteran.
The Match Up
Flyweight Ray Borg -750 vs. Chris Kelades +525
3 Things You Should Know
1. With news of Evander Kane being traded to the Sabres, and the hockey world being ill equipped to deal with their charismatic stars, it's important to remember that a prospect's failures are as much at the mercy of their performance as by politics.
Every sports culture harbors insecurities it either can't hide, or always seems indebted to. In hockey, the good 'ole boys club got sick of a player who had become "toxic" in the locker room, because well, "money phones" are, I guess too much like gangsta rap in the presence of adolescent ears. Football's indiscretions are well documented, including their uneven history of punishment for certain violations. MMA has an odder problem. While it shares a lot of the same issues other sports have when it comes to patrolling, it's also notable for a complete lack of structure in well...everything. The lack of a prospect system often stings the most when watching fighters with real potential because theoretically, this shouldn't be complicated. Don't tell Charles Oliveira that, though.
All this over Ray Borg? Well I've gotta pad the word length somehow. But I can't stand Zuffa's lack of direction with respect to their prospects. There's simply no rhyme or reason, and these narratives have massive effects on our interest, casual or hardcore, in these athletes. How much more awesome would it have been if Oliveira fought Cerrone still undefeated? Borg might have more hype if he wasn't matched up against Dustin Ortiz, who was fresh off a competitive loss to former title contender, John Moraga. There's a fine line, obviously, but it's not a hard science. Why not start small and simple, like not giving any 20 year old making his debut a bout against a ranked fighter. Just saying.
2. Chris Kelades is the perfect matchup for an undefeated Borg. However, he's a live underdog, and an even livelier trap opponent.
Since I'm not done complaining, this is why you carefully groom your blue chips. If Borg loses, skepticism begins to creep in. Skepticism is a great tool in philosophy, but in sports, it amounts to defeat. And two defeats on the big stage in only three fights can signal serious doubt about a fighter's worth, when in reality, all it does is identify readiness. At 33 years of age, and only 9 pro fights, Chris seems like an easy bout on paper. He's not only old, but he's inexperienced. How good can he be? Pretty good, it turns out. He beat Holohan, who was another previously hyped fighter with a specific skillset.
3. While the odds are nuts, expect Borg to pull through with superior athleticism and grace.
The reason for touting Borg is that he has access to a broader canvas. His strikes, while lacking technique, come quick, and he has a high IQ when it comes to how he uses them. Few fighters manifest their understanding of MMA as the monkeys in a barrel chain that it is when it comes to shifting categories of arts. Borg is quick with his takedowns, and keeps himself in excellent position from vertical to horizontal. His grappling resembles the Alpha Male variety; using scrambles and transitions for opportunities rather than traditional setups.
If there's a concern, it's his size and strength in the division (Sergio Pettis has a similar "problem"). I know it happens, but it was still kind of strange to see him sink in a choke for that long against Shane Howell the way that he did, and not get the choke the first time. With only one TKO, his IQ will have to carry him each fight. Kelades is strong in close, so it's possible Borg gets sucked into a scrap in the shank tark for longer than he might be comfortable with.
I think Borg uses his athleticism and takedown game to neutralize whatever punishment or close quarter battle Kelades needs to win. Kelades, despite being strong, doesn't have enough raw power to threaten Borg so expect to see a very clinical, somewhat conservative grappling centric victory for Borg. Ray Borg by Decision.