Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Flyweight contenders Joseph Benavidez and Ray Borg will duel this Saturday (Nov. 10, 2018) at UFC Fight Night 139 inside Pepsi Center in Denver, Colorado.
The Flyweight division’s future is uncertain. Considering Demetrious Johnson’s recent trade and Henry Cejudo’s interest in the division above him, there’s a real chance that the rumor of the division’s dissolution could be true. At the moment, I don’t believe even the UFC knows for sure what comes next, but two men with a vest interest are featured in this main card clash. For Benavidez, he’s looking to rebound from his first non-title defeat, a debatable split-decision that came following a lengthy injury layoff. Meanwhile, Borg was last seen getting tossed around by “Mighty Mouse” in his first title shot, so both men are attempting to jump back into the title mix.
Let’s take a closer look at the keys to victory for each man:
Key Wins: Henry Cejudo (TUF 24 Finale) , Jussier Formiga (UFC Fight Night 28), Zach Makovsky (UFC Fight Night 82), Dustin Ortiz (UFC Fight Night 57), Ali Bagautinov (UFC 192)
Key Losses: Demetrious Johnson (UFC on FOX 9, UFC 152), Dominick Cruz (WEC 50, WEC 42), Sergio Pettis (UFC 225)
Keys to Victory: Benavidez has been one of the very best lighter weight fighters in the world since he defeated Junya Kodo in 2008, competing for multiple titles and remaining a top contender all the while. A physical wrestler with neck-wrenching submissions and a high-volume kickboxing attack, “Beefcake” remains one of Flyweight’s best.
Opposite Borg, that aforementioned volume will be key. Realistically, both men are such great scramblers that any takedown is likely to brief. As such, we likely have a kickboxing match on our hands.
Borg’s boxing has come a long way in the last couple years, but Benavidez is the more diverse and trickier kickboxer. At his best, Benavidez does a wonderful job of mixing up his offense: switching stance, targeting the body, and commonly following punches with same side kicks.
Opposite an athletic but less experienced foe, Benavidez is likely to land at a higher rate. So long as he at least matches Borg’s volume — and Benavidez usually exceeds his opponents’ volume by a fair measure — he should lead the dance on the judges’ scorecards.
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: Demetrious Johnson (UFC 216), Justin Scoggins (UFC Fight Night 82), Dustin Ortiz (UFC on FOX 11)
Keys to Victory: Since his entrance to the UFC, Borg has made great use of an athletic wrestling game to employ his dynamic jiu-jitsu, resulting in six submission victories. His kickboxing has developed quite well recently, and at 25 years old, Borg remains one of the division’s better prospects.
I talked a lot about this being a kickboxing match, and that’s largely true. Benavidez is mostly impossible to hold down, but he’s so confident in his scrambling that it’s not uncommon to see Benavidez taken down for a few seconds, which could be an opportunity for Borg.
On the feet, Borg’s primary goal should be to match Benavidez’s volume and keep things close as possible. Whenever he sees the opening for a shot, Borg should drop down and — at the very least — score some points for even brief takedown. Little takedowns go a long way with the judges (for whatever reason), and there’s also a chance that Borg could catch a back take during a scramble and really do something significant.
Bottom Line: It’s an excellent Flyweight contest.
This is definitely a major fight for Benavidez. In his entire career, “Beefcake” has never lost consecutive fights — he doesn’t want to break that trend. Plus, now that Johnson is gone, Benavidez has a much better chance at earning a title shot, particularly since he holds a win over the current champion.
Indeed, if Cejudo loses to Dillashaw or fails to make that fight materialize, Benavidez is likely the top contender with a win here.
Given Benavidez’s status in the division, this is also a serious opportunity for Borg. Ranked in the Top 5 and still growing into his prime, Borg could really make a case that he’s again ready for the title mix with a victory here. It’s also worth-noting that Borg has missed weight before, so pay attention to the scales on Friday ahead of this contest.
At UFC Fight Night 139, Joseph Benavidez and Ray Borg will square off. Which man will earn the victory?