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Ray Borg and the ‘sh*tstorm’ of the UFC’s flyweight division

Ray Borg is stuck in a bizarre situation.

The flyweight fighter currently finds himself in the middle of a dispute between flyweight champion Demetrious Johnson, bantamweight contender T.J. Dillashaw, and the UFC. Depending on how the situation plays out, Borg could be fighting for the belt in the near future or be left without a division to fight in.

“It kind of has become a little bit of a sh*tstorm,” Borg said on Monday’s edition of The MMA Hour. “It changed gears really quick, it went from everyone, with me and T.J. and Demetrious, bickering back-and-fourth over who’s going to fight who, to now it completely switched gears to [UFC president] Dana [White] and Demetrious beefing it out. And now, it’s kinda like I have to take a few steps back and let them do their thing and sort out their issues before I can have any say on what goes on next.”

Borg, who is currently 5-1 in his past six fights and ranked third in the division, was targeted to be the next challenger to Johnson’s throne. But after bantamweight champion Cody Garbrandt suffered a back injury — thus canceling his highly anticipated UFC 213 fight with former teammate and top contender Dillashaw — Borg was suddenly in a position where he could get skipped over by Dillashaw in challenging Johnson for the belt when Dillashaw decided to campaign for a championship fight with Johnson. The UFC liked it and began to push for it.

However, fortunately for Borg, Johnson refused to fight Dillashaw, stating that Dillashaw didn’t deserve to challenge for the belt since he had never fought at 125 pounds before along with other reasons. And according to Johnson, White threatened to close the flyweight division if he didn’t take the fight with Dillashaw.

Although part of Borg is happy that Johnson is willing to go to war with the UFC to keep order in the flyweight division, another part remains skeptical as to why “Mighty Mouse” is essentially sticking his neck out for him.

“I walk real lightly in this game, even in real life,” Borg said. “The way I grew up, the background I came from, trust is a big thing, so I don’t really trust anyone until I truly know them, I know who they are, and I don’t know who D.J. is. So although D.J. is giving me this respect — and wants to fight me because of the rankings and he feels like I deserve it — that’s great, but at the end of the day, I have to switch gears and throw up my defensive mode and ask myself, ‘Is D.J. really respecting me? Or is he trying to use me as a pawn in a negotiation tactic to get the type of money he wants for T.J?’

“So that flows through my mind, too, so until I see something on paper like, ‘Hey, D.J. really does want to fight you because he feels like you’ve earned it and were about to sign a fight between you two,’ until then I separate my mind to really bank on things. I’m not banking that he really wants to fight me, because I heard that he wanted to fight me, but I heard from another article that he asked to fight Sergio [Pettis] instead because Sergio has his brother’s name behind him, so he’s more marketable. It’s a weird situation.”

The UFC’s reason to want to do the Johnson-Dillashaw fight over the bout with Borg is that it would be considered a superfight — since Dillashaw is a former champion at bantamweight — and it would do better business when it comes to selling pay-per-views. However, Borg is confident he would sell the fight with the champion just as well as Dillashaw would.

“Yeah, I think we could sell just as well as T.J.,” Borg explained. “The only reason why it seems so interesting to the fans is because T.J. is a former champion, he’s got the beef going on with Cody [Garbrandt], so that’s elevated his name a little bit, but T.J. was barely becoming a draw until he fought Dominick [Cruz].

“He wasn’t much of a draw and nobody thought he deserved the title shot against Barao the first time. He was coming off a loss to Assuncao and one win, and some people felt he didn’t deserve a title shot, but he went and performed excellent and won the belt. After that, people were like, ‘OK, I like T.J. I’m going to start tuning in,’ but I don’t feel like it was really until the Cody thing that people were really going to start tuning in to watch T.J. So I feel like if it’s going to be a difference in numbers, it’s not going to be a big one between me and T.J. I feel like I can sell the fight just as well as T.J. can, I mean, I’m not corny; I’m not cheese. If I’m going to talk some sh*t, I’m going to talk some sh*t, it’s going to be some real sh*t. It’s not going to be this jabroni-I’m-going-to-punch-you-in-the-face type stuff, I’m going to call it how I see it.”

With Johnson having unsettled business with the UFC brass, Borg is not sure where his fighting career will go next. One thing for certain is that the 23-year-old fighter is not in a hurry to fight for UFC gold, and would be OK with not getting the next crack at the belt, just as long as he gets some clarity in his career.

“I don’t know and to be truly honest, because I’m only 23, if I don’t get a title shot right now, I’m not going to b*tch and cry about it,” Borg said. “Hell, I got so much more time in this game, if I were 30, I’d be like, ‘Dana give me this title shot, I need the title shot right now.’ But just being real, I mean, I would love the title shot against D.J., I feel like my skill set would match up better with D.J. than T.J.’s, but at the end of the day, part of me wants to move on. I don’t want to stay in this limbo, I want to stay active and that’s my biggest thing, I want to stay active to get better. Each time I step in, I’m going to get a little bit better, so I just want to stay busy. Part of me just wants to move on to the next thing and possibly figure out who’s next, but I’m just going to figure out how this thing plays out.”

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