Ray Borg, owner of one of the best logos in the sport, is currently listed 12th in the UFC flyweight rankings. Many observers have the 9-1 Borg, whose only loss came to Dustin Ortiz via split decision, pegged as a future title challenger. Borg faces Justin Scoggins at UFC Fight Night 82 on February 6th and the odds-makers are heavily favouring the ‘TazMexican Devil'. Scoggins seems undeterred by the odds, stating via Twitter and Instagram on January 30th that he would ‘destroy' Borg come fight night. Borg's response to the comment is blunt.
"I think it's kinda stupid," Borg told Bloody Elbow. "I think he's delusional."
"I think him saying that is just him trying to make himself believe he can, but you know, that doesn't matter to me at all, because I know inside that I'm going to beat him."
Despite not being a fan of Scoggin's tweets, Borg does give his opponent some credit.
"Justin is a tough guy. He's fought some tough dudes."
Borg, who has demonstrated impressive grappling during his three fight win streak in the UFC, believes he has a definite edge on the mat versus Scoggins, who is known mostly for his striking.
"I feel like I have the advantage in the ground game," said Borg. "Although, I feel like I have the advantage on the ground versus a lot of guys in the UFC at 125." Despite not being recognized for his striking, Borg believes he has the ability to surprise people should the fight with Scoggins remain on the feet.
"I've wanted to showcase my striking for a while now," said Borg. The 22-year-old product of Tom Vaughn's FIT NHB in Albuquerque believes the Scoggins match-up may finally provide him the opportunity to impress people with his hands. However, he's quick to point out that if it feels right to take the fight to the ground, he will.
Though Borg likes the match-up with the unranked Scoggins he does admit that it would have been "cool" to be facing someone ranked above him. Despite this, Borg still believes fighting Scoggins is an important step in his career. "If I beat Scoggins, and I plan on beating him, I can see me being propelled from a prospect to a contender."
Borg also admitted that he's looked ahead and considered all the possibilities that could play out after a victory over Scoggins on Saturday. He claimed a logical next step would be Louis Smolka, who he believes would be available to fight in April. Borg also asserted that a win over a ranked opponent, such as Smolka, could see him in a title eliminator with an opponent like Joseph Benavidez or Zach Makovsky. The dream scenario for Borg is for those three fights to happen this year and for him to be ready for a title fight in early 2017.
"When the time comes to fight Demetrious [Johnson] we want to be ready and we want to beat him, we don't want to be like these guys who go in there and do fairly well and they kind of hold their head up like, ‘Hey I did fairly well, I lasted to the fifth round', that's not what I want. I want to go in there and beat Demetrious."
Borg's last outing came in August, when he controlled a game Geane Herrera en route to a unanimous decision victory. Despite the one-sided nature of the affair, Borg was disappointed.
"I wasn't really happy at all with my performance," sighed Borg. "I felt like I could have performed better than I did, although people think I fought a great fight, and the whole missing weight bummed me out a lot."
Borg came in heavy for the Herrera fight and apologized to the UFC brass on the mic during his post-match interview. He stated that his nutritionist was unavailable for the week leading up to the contest. Unsupervised, he tried to improvise with different foods and his body did not respond well, thus making the weight cut more difficult.
Aside from being a challenging weight class for some to cut down to, the UFC's flyweight division also suffers from a lack of fan attention. The prejudice against the promotion's lightest male fighters was never more explicit than when fans reportedly began leaving the arena during a Demetrious Johnson title defence in 2014.
Borg is quick to defend the 125lb division. "Watch a fight, we're not boring," he says. Borg thinks the lack of attention paid to the flyweights is a result of some fans' inability to appreciate a technical match-up.
"I think casual fans - who I do not think respect the sport - who don't really know too much about the sport, they see cagefighting and you know, in their mind they're thinking of the whole ‘human cockfighting' era and they want to see blood every fight, people being knocked out every fight."
"Generally most flyweights are very technical and the casual fan doesn't want to see a technical fight, they wanna see an all out bar-brawl, so I think that's what the difference is between people liking to watch the flyweights fight versus people at the higher weight classes."
Flyweight champion Demetrious Johnson has been blamed by some for not doing enough to elevate the popularity of the division. When asked if he thought this was fair, Borg stated, "I can see where people are coming from." When it comes to Johnson's persona, Borg expressed doubts that it could ever resonate with the majority of fight-fans.
"He's a real goofy guy," said Borg. "Real quiet, kind of a ‘video-game-person'. The casual fans, they wanna see a champ who has the attitude of a fighter, is what I guess you could say, although I don't think it requires you to talk trash, you just have to have that fire around you, when you walk around - let it be known that you're a fighter, I mean, it's good to be a normal person you know, we are just normal people, but I just don't think he has that... that fire you know?"
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