Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Flyweight elites Demetrious Johnson and Ray Borg will collide this Saturday (Oct. 7, 2017) at UFC 216 inside T-Mobile Center in Las Vegas, Nevada.
It’s a historic moment for “Mighty Mouse,” though it’s happening a month later than expected. He’s been utterly dominant since capturing the belt and has been on one of the best runs in mixed martial arts (MMA) history for about five years now. With just one more win, Johnson will capture the record for most title defenses, a milestone he’s been eyeing for some time.
Looking to ruin things for “DJ” is “The Tazmexican Devil,” a Top 5-ranked Flyweight out of Jackson-Winkeljohn academy. The whole reason Borg received this shot rather than T.J. Dillashaw was due to a distrust in Dillashaw’s ability to make 125 pounds. Ironically, Borg himself missed weight twice before at Flyweight, and illness — which may or may not be related to his weight cut — delayed this fight from UFC 215.
Let’s take a look at the keys to victory for each man:
Key Wins: Joe Benavidez (UFC 152, UFC on Fox 9), John Dodson (UFC 191, UFC on Fox 6), Ian McCall (UFC on FX 3), Henry Cejudo (UFC 197)
Key Losses: Dominick Cruz (UFC on Versus 6)
Keys to Victory: It’s hard to sum up Demetrious Johnson in a two-to-three sentence blurb. The simplest description is that he’s really damn good in every possible area. Beyond that, it’s important to note that Johnson is so comfortable in all areas of the game that he can utilize drastically different gameplans depending on the foe. That extends to mid-fight as well, as Johnson adapts beautifully over the course of five rounds.
Johnson is a great wrestler and Brazilian jiu-jitsu player, but those are Borg’s strengths as well. His young foe is much less experienced on the feet, so there’s no reason for Johnson to take the fight anywhere else.
In Borg’s most recent loss, he struggled with the range control and footwork of Justin Scoggins. In short, he was trapped outside and picked apart. Johnson may not have Scoggins’ size, but he does have those same technical advantages on the feet that helped Scoggins dominate.
Just like in his last fight, Johnson should look to back away from range then catch Borg as he goes to close the distance. Johnson will land and build damage on the feet, which causes bad takedown attempts from his foes. Once that happens, Johnson can keep attacking or look for his own takedown, as Borg will slowly deteriorate under Johnson’s effective offense.
Key Wins: Jussier Formiga (UFC Fight Night 105), Louis Smolka (UFC 207), Geane Herrera (UFC Fight Night 73), Chris Kelades (UFC Fight Night 60)
Key Losses: Justin Scoggins (UFC Fight Night 82), Dustin Ortiz (UFC on FOX 11)
Keys to Victory: Borg is a fantastic grappler with a quickly developing stand up game. Furthermore, he’s a great athlete from a strong camp, a pair of important ingredients that help make a successful upset.
Do I expect Borg to win on Saturday? No, I do not. Johnson is really good. At the same time, Borg has a better chance than most expect, and his style lines up reasonably well opposite “Mighty Mouse.”
On the feet, Borg has developed a boxing game based on forward pressure, head movement, and setting up power shots. Against an opponent looking to move laterally and avoid close exchanges, that’s all really great stuff. Even better is Borg’s heavy low kick, which should be thrown early and often in an attempt to slow Johnson down.
Besides that, Borg should be look for his power double anytime he’s in range. Borg is explosive enough to throw Johnson on his head given the chance, and his back takes are very slick. No matter how skilled Johnson may be, it only takes a half second for a fighter like Borg to slip in a rear naked choke and shock the world.
Bottom Line: This is a significant moment in Johnson’s career.
Johnson already has a realistic claim to being the greatest of all time simply by being so incredibly skilled in every area, but having the record for consecutive title defenses gives him a claim on paper as well. His dominance is largely unmatched; this is just another title defense for Johnson to keep greatness going.
Meanwhile, a loss hurts his legacy and makes that milestone an impossible accomplishment.
As for Borg, there’s not much to lose. He’s young in his career, and Johnson makes it a habit to destroy great fighters. Losing won’t hurt him in the least, while an upset would be one of the year’s biggest stories and immediately earn Borg a place in combat sports history.
At UFC 216, Demetrious Johnson and Ray Borg will battle in the co-main event. Which man will leave the cage strapped with gold?