Ray Borg was one of the biggest casualties of Conor McGregor’s antics at UFC 223.
The one-time flyweight title contender lost his opportunity to compete due to corneal abrasions he suffered in his eyes when McGregor hurled a dolly through the window of the red-corner fighter bus in the bowels of the Barclays Center last Thursday after UFC 223 media day. Borg was taken to the hospital later that night and ruled out of his scheduled fight against Brandon Moreno on the advice of several doctors, losing out on a potential payday through no fault of his own.
Reflecting back on the “whirlwind of emotions” he felt at UFC 223, Borg acknowledged his frustration regarding how his situation has been received by a vocal contingent of the MMA community. Borg was a victim in McGregor’s bus attack, after all, yet the 24-year-old fighter has since been the target of widespread abuse online for withdrawing from his fight. Much of that abuse seems to stem from fans citing a two-second clip of Borg’s bewildered immediate reaction to McGregor’s antics from UFC 223 Embedded — assumedly as proof that Borg was not injured — however that brief clip tells only a small part of the story.
“They didn’t see the rest of it, when I wiped my eyes and the glass went right onto my face,” Borg explained Monday on The MMA Hour.
“My eye was a little irritated, but I didn’t really think much of it, and it wasn’t until later that day that the small shards and particles of glass that were on my cornea were what really caused the irritation. I personally didn’t even want to get looked at by a doctor, but as I was trying to get on with my weight cut, my eye just started killing me and I was advised to go see a doctor and get checked out.”
It was at that point late Thursday that Borg realized his fight at UFC 223 could actually be in jeopardy.
“I was first checked out by the UFC doctor,” Borg said. “The doctor that they always have there, I forget his name, but I got checked out by him first. He looks in my eye and tells me it looks like I have some corneal abrasions, maybe iritis, because I was kinda sensitive to light. So as I get to the hospital, they admit me and they didn’t just look at my eye and say, ‘Oh, yeah, your eye looks a little messed up. You can’t fight.’ They ran a whole [gamut of tests]. They did it twice just to double-check to make sure. I had them do it twice.
“They said I had multiple corneal abrasions, which was causing the irritation and a little bit of the blurriness that I was seeing.
“To be honest, I thought I was going to be fine. My coach Brandon [Gibson], he had told me that he had gone through the same thing before, to where he’d had shards of glass in his eye and it just bugged him and bugged him, and then they kinda gave him some drops and some medication and he was better in a few days. Even the UFC doctor told me that it would be better within 72 hours, so I truly thought, ‘Okay, you know what, I came in, got checked out like they needed me to. Maybe they’ll just send me on my way and give me stuff that USADA will approve and I can take the next couple days until fight night and be fine.’
“But no, after that the UFC doctors as well as the doctors in the emergency room didn’t advise me to fight Saturday night.”
Borg and fellow UFC 223 fighter Michael Chiesa were seated next the bus window that shattered because of McGregor’s dolly throw. Chiesa’s fight against Anthony Pettis was subsequently cancelled on Thursday night as well, as the lightweight contender ended up suffering multiple cuts from the broken glass caused by the incident.
In total, three UFC 223 fights were affected, as a featherweight bout between McGregor teammate Artem Lobov and Alex Cacaeres was also cancelled due to Lobov’s involvement in the attack.
Nonetheless, a majority of the venom spewed online after the incident seemed to be directed at Borg. The Jackson-Wink fighter even heard critics attempting to debunk his injuries as false based on the notion that he was wearing glasses at the time of the incident.
He finds that claim to be ridiculous.
“People think that because I wear glasses, they’re like some type of universal protection field,” Borg said. “Anybody who wears glasses knows that you still get sh*t in your eyes.”
Things eventually got so bad online that Borg said he felt compelled to post a doctor’s note on Twitter that explained his injury, even against the advice of those close to him.
“I was advised to kinda just leave it alone, not say anything, just let the trolls be trolls,” Borg said. “I was always told don’t feed the trolls, don’t feed the trolls. But it had gotten to the point where some of these people were just getting so outrageous, so outrageous that I had to defend myself. I can’t just ignore certain things, same thing with wanting to get off the bus when all this happened. I felt the need to defend myself, so as much as I would’ve rather not put all my personal [information online], put a doctor’s note and everything that gave me — I would’ve rather not had to do that, but unfortunately the fanbase that is involved with MMA right now required me to do that.
“The Conor McGregor era came with two things. One, a great big deal of new people watching this sport, but also a great big deal of dumb people watching this sport. What really started to get to me on social media is when people starting to more or less come after my family. If you’re going to start talking crap about me and things like that, whatever, I don’t care, I have thick skin, I can take it, it doesn’t matter to me, thse people don’t have faces. But when I see [people] on my social media calling my wife a fat ho and just ridiculous stuff — I mean, I had some people even telling me that they wished the dolly went through the window and blew my head off. Like, man, people are insane.
“So it’s sad. It is very sad to see what a lot of these MMA fans have come to, but I had to post something just to kinda defend myself in this whole situation, let people know. What the hell do I want a cop-out for? I got in this sport to make money off of beating people, not suing people, so I just felt the need to defend myself.”
In the wake of the incident, UFC president Dana White stated that all five fighters who lost out on their chance to compete at UFC 223 would be paid their show purses. White also said that McGregor will likely be facing several lawsuits because of his actions.
Yet while Chiesa has already indicated that he intends to pursue legal action against the Irishman, Borg hasn’t made a decision one way or the other. At this point, his main focus is simply on caring for his newborn son and getting his fight re-booked against Moreno.
“I don’t know what the process is right now,” Borg said. “Honestly, if I could tell you, ‘Yeah, I’m going to sue him; yeah, I already talked with lawyers,’ that would be something that’s not evidently true. I don’t have a lawyer. I don’t have anything in place. I don’t know what’s going on. It’s been a few days since this happened, and I’m more looking forward to seeing my son and getting something re-booked as fast as I can. I’d rather fight than try to fight Conor McGregor in court.”
As for his eye injuries, Borg said he hopes to be cleared to return to the Octagon soon.
“There’s just some redness,” Borg said. “They gave me some good numbing drops that’s kinda helped take down the swelling. To be honest, it’s more irritating than anything. I just want to rub it the whole time. But it’s just real red. The swelling’s gone done. It’s not as sensitive to light right now, so it’s just real red and hopefully when I see an ophthalmologist, he’ll say I should be fine. They did a CT scan actually when I was at the hospital just to double-check and make sure there wasn’t any glass stuck in the back of my eye.
“They say there’s no permanent damage to anything serious in my eye, it’s just the surface, so hopefully that’s some good news.”