Ray Borg isn’t saying he would have won. But he’s saying the way he wouldn’t have went out the way he did.
A fifth-round armbar loss to UFC flyweight champ Demetrious Johnson (27-2-1 MMA, 15-1-1 UFC) at UFC 216 gave Borg plenty of opportunity to reflect on what happened. Much of it was positive.
“Winning that fight wouldn’t have taught me the same as a loss would have,” Borg (11-3 MMA, 5-3 UFC), who next faces Brandon Moreno (14-4 MMA, 3-1 UFC) at UFC Fight Night 126, told MMAjunkie Radio.
Still, Borg has to work not to beat himself up too much. He’s convinced that standing up with Johnson would have yielded better results. Maybe he wouldn’t have landed the fight-ending punch, but Johnson wouldn’t have had the chance to set up that magnificent armbar, which allowed the champ to break the record for most consecutive UFC title defenses at 11.
“I kick myself in the ass for it all the time,” Borg said. “I’m not saying I would have knocked him out, but the fight would have been so much different.”
In the wake of the loss, Borg’s manager called offering a matchup with Moreno, a promising up-and-comer who’d just been beaten by Sergio Pettis. It offered a good opportunity to rebound, but Borg didn’t need convincing.
“I’ve even told my manager, it’s professional to do that, but you don’t have to tell me,” he said. “You just have to tell me we’re fighting this guy on this date, and as long as you think it’s a good matchup, just tell me where to sign and I’m there. That’s the way I’ve always been.”
The two face off Feb. 18 at Frank Erwin Center in Austin, Texas. UFC Fight Night 126’s main card airs live on FS1 following prelims on FS1 and UFC Fight Pass.
While Borg might be humbled by the genius of the current champ, he isn’t giving any ground to those working their way toward a title shot. His current plan is to act as a gatekeeper until Johnson moves on, and then seize the title. Sending Moreno down the ladder is just the first step on that road.
“Moreno’s a real scrappy kid, but he hasn’t put in what I have,” Borg said. “He hasn’t been where I’ve been in the sport, and I want to let him know that. He’s scrappy as hell, he’s tough, and he’s sneaky more than anything. But he’s young, too.
“People need to know that if anything’s going to shift gears in this division when D.J. gets beat, people need to know that I’m the next one – not Moreno, not Pettis. I’m the next one.
“If I’ve got to fight (Henry) Cejudo, Moreno, Pettis – any of those dudes – to let people know that, then I’ve never said no to a fight.”
MMAjunkie Radio broadcasts Monday-Friday at 1 p.m. ET (10 a.m. PT) live from Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino’s Race & Sports Book. The show is hosted by “Gorgeous” George Garcia, Brian “Goze” Garcia and Dan Tom. For more information or to download past episodes, go to www.mmajunkie.com/radio.