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Ray Borg’s fight getting moved to Denver ties emotional 2018 together

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Ray Borg faces Joseph Benavidez at UFC Denver.
Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

Ray Borg’s topsy turvy 2018 has somehow come full circle.

The UFC flyweight contender’s fight with Joseph Benavidez was recently moved to UFC Denver on Nov. 10, from UFC 229 in Las Vegas on Oct. 6. The bout was shifted due to an order of protection from Conor McGregor that Borg was granted, yet he never asked for.

But the moving parts seem to tie together what has been an emotional roller-coaster of a year for Borg. Denver just so happens to be the same city where Borg’s newborn son Anthony was treated for and fought off hydrocephalus, a disease that causes spinal fluid to collect in the brain.

“For me to fight in the same city in which he fought so hard, I believe, is fitting,” Borg told MMA Fighting. “That means something. Maybe it’s fate.”

Anthony is doing much better now, Borg said. He’s been back home with Borg and his wife Amanda since June. Hydrocephalus is something Anthony will always have to live with, Borg said, but between 70 and 90 percent of those afflicted with the disease can lead a normal life, he was told. Anthony needed another brain surgery in late August, but he’s home again and recovering.

Things were touch and go for the Borgs back in the spring. Anthony’s health had ups and downs, but he made it through, including battling through two major surgeries. Some would say the infant takes after his dad, a durable cage fighter. Borg thinks the opposite.

“I would say, without a doubt, he’s tougher than me,” Borg said.

Before Anthony was born, Borg was supposed to fight Brandon Moreno at UFC 223 in April. He was forced off that card on the eve of the event in Brooklyn after being injured when McGregor through a dolly at a UFC fighter bus following media day. The dolly shattered a glass window, sending glass onto Borg and Michael Chiesa, who was also injured. Borg got glass in his eye, causing multiple corneal abrasions, he said, and doctors pulled him from the bout.

McGregor was arrested for the attack and pleaded guilty to disorderly conduct last month. Part of that plea agreement included an order of protection for Borg and Chiesa against McGregor. Borg said that is not something he requested, but a standard practice.

“I had nothing to do with that,” Borg said. “That wasn’t me. That was something the court decided. I didn’t even know about that until after.”

Borg said the order of protection has actually already been removed, but his fight with Benavidez was already changed to Denver and he doesn’t mind the location or waiting a few weeks longer.

As for McGregor, Borg said there’s no hard feelings. At first, he was furious, but those feelings have mellowed, he said. The one thing that he does loathe are the fans that he believes McGregor has brought with him to MMA. One, Borg said, told him on social media that he wished the dolly came through the window and killed him.

“Conor has done a lot for the sport,” Borg said. “He’s brought a lot of eyes, he’s brought a lot of money to the sport. But he’s also brought these fans, who think everything is a game. Conor’s fans seem to think MMA is some kind of cross with pro wrestling and entertainment. This is real life. We’re human beings who fight real fights for a living. Some of these Conor McGregor fans are really crazy. My wife always tells me, ‘Stay off social media, stay off social media.’ It’s hard sometimes. I can’t believe what some of these people say.”

Borg, 25, is jumping right back into the 125-pound deep end against Benavidez, who was the consensus second-best flyweight in the world during the Demetrious Johnson era. That’s no matter to the Albuquerque resident. Borg is healthy, his son is out of the hospital and the events of the last few months are now in the rear-view mirror.

“If anything, I’ve been inspired,” Borg said of the early part of this year. “I want to fight harder and train harder knowing I’m fighting for [Anthony].”