FORTALEZA, Brazil — Fighting in Fortaleza will be special for Jussier Formiga.
The experienced flyweight will compete for the first in the capital of Ceara since 2011, when he finished Michael Costa to win the Shooto Brazil flyweight championship and kicked off the four-fight stoppage streak that earned him an UFC contract.
"Fortaleza is right next to my hometown Natal, so I was super excited when they offered me this fight,” Formiga, who meets Ray Borg at Saturday’s UFC Fight Night 106, told MMA Fighting. "Fortaleza is where I won the Shooto belt, so this place brings good memories, a good energy. I’m really excited to fight here in the Northeast."
Formiga has fought all over the country since signing with the UFC in 2013, and his only submission victory inside the Octagon came when he fought Scott Jorgensen in his hometown. Fighting so close to his family and friends got him motivated to win fast, he says.
“I want to win as quick as possible,” Formiga said. "If I can end this fight in one minute, I will. But if it’s a three-round war, I’m ready too. I’m really motivated and focused for this fight. I’ll do my best. I want to put on a great performance to show the UFC I have what it takes to fight (UFC flyweight champion) Demetrious (Johnson).”
The UFC officially announced last week that the flyweight king will put his belt on the line against Wilson Reis on April 15, and Formiga believes the only thing separating him from a title shot is lack of finishes.
"It’s time to bring back the submissions,” he said. "I think that’s what’s missing, a submission or maybe a knockout, something I haven’t done yet in my career. I’m working hard in my striking for a long time and I’m confident in the work we’re doing. I believe in my hands and legs. I have all the tools to fight Ray Borg. It’s going to be a great fight. My ground is always sharp, I won’t waste opportunities. If we go to the ground, we’ll roll until I catch him.
"After this fight, I hope they recognize me as someone who can fight Demetrious,” he continued. "Everyone had their chance and I deserve mine. Not taking anything away from Wilson Reis, he’s doing his thing, but I’m on this road for a long time and I have what it takes to face Demetrious. Wilson will have his chance, and I’m looking for my chance. I wanna focus on Ray Borg now because it’s my next fight and it’s important, and then I’ll think about the belt."
In fact, the next flyweight contender’s only loss since moving down to 125 pounds was to Formiga.
"I fought Wilson in May 2015 and it was a great fight, a good test for me,” said Formiga, who won via decision when they fought in Goiania, Brazil. "He’s doing his thing, he’s well ranked, and that’s it. But it’s nice to see two Brazilians close to the belt.”
Coming back from an ankle injury that forced him to cancel a fight with Sergio Pettis in January, the Nova Uniao athlete reveals that the promotion offered him a spot at the Fortaleza card before he was completely healed.
"I couldn't throw any kicks or do some movements, so the (Pettis) fight was cancelled,” Formiga said. "I did physical therapy for 20 days and it got better and I went back to the gym right away.
"I was still injured when they offered me the fight in Fortaleza. My coach said that my injury wasn’t that serious, so I could accept it and go back to training in a couple of weeks. In fact, it was supposed to be Tim Elliot, but it didn't work out, and they offered me Ray Borg. I don’t pick fights. I fight whoever they offer."
Formiga sees Borg as “an important opponent” that will give him “a big test,” and admits that he doesn’t know exactly what to expect from his opponent when the fight starts.
"That’s the big question,” Formiga said. "Borg is a good wrestler, has some good striking skills, but he’s more grappler than striker. He’s versatile, has a dangerous guillotine, good transitions, but I don’t know what’s going on in his head, if he will try to stand with me and take me down in the final seconds of the rounds to score points. But I trained hard, ready for anything he brings. You can be sure I’m ready for all areas."