Ray Borg was very excited to get the call to join the Bellator MMA roster, but he was admittedly confused when he received his first official fight offer.
The name on his bout agreement was ex-Bellator champion Kyoji Horiguchi, which was exactly the kind of opponent Borg wanted. Then, he saw that the fight was at 125 pounds.
Borg spent a huge part of his career competing at flyweight, but he also endured some truly disastrous weight cuts that eventually played a part in his UFC release. So when he discovered Bellator wanted him to fight again at flyweight, he was definitely surprised. Even still, he never hesitated for a second when it came time to ink the contract.
“I was really confused on why they offered the fight at flyweight, to be honest,” Borg told MMA Fighting. “I still don’t even know why, to be truly honest. It kind of doesn’t make sense to me. I know Bellator’s done flyweight fights when they have more local guys on the card. Kyoji’s fought at bantamweight, he was a bantamweight champion, so it didn’t make sense to me. Still kind of doesn’t. I just said yes to the fight.
“I was excited for the opportunity to get signed with Bellator and to fight with Kyoji. It’s a fight a long time in the making, and it’s coming at the perfect time in my career and in my life. It is what it is. I just take the fights they give me.”
Borg knows all eyes are on him Friday when he sets foot on the scale ahead of his debut at Bellator 295. But he’s grown to expect that because of the attention he put on himself by failing to make weight so many times in the past.
When this situation came up previously, Borg used to lash out at his detractors, which only led to further backlash when he didn’t make weight. These days, he’s just learned to accept his mistakes, and he’s taken full ownership those weight misses.
“I’ve made a lot of changes in my life in terms of not just dieting and how all that goes, but it’s psychological with me now,” Borg explained. “I’m not hung up on dumb stuff. I’m not cheating on diets, and I just have a really strong mentality going into [weight] cuts. My last three [fights] showed that I was first on the scale, first to weigh-in. The questions are going to come up, the doubts are going to be there, but I brought those upon myself.
“One thing I’ve accepted is I’ve had a bunch of bad weight cuts, and it’s kind of helped me move forward, and I don’t really eat from that tree anymore.”
Since leaving the UFC, Borg has gone 3-0 with impressive wins over UFC and Bellator veterans such as Cody Gibson and Ricky Bandejas.
Borg knows there’s never really been a question about his ability to compete with the best fighters in the world. His UFC release had nothing to do with wins and losses. That said, he believes leaving the UFC is what precipitated the wholesale changes he’s made in his life.
“I got cut from the UFC because of my own demons,” Borg said. “I didn’t get cut because I couldn’t hang. And honestly, truth be told, getting cut from the UFC was probably the best thing to happen for me for my career. Yeah, I lost out fighting on the biggest stage and platform in the world, but at the end of the day, it was the best thing to happen to me mentally. I don’t think I would be in the mental state that I am now if that didn’t happen.
“With that being said, this is great opportunity to prove myself, not just to fight, but the weight cut. This is one of those times I get to show people there’s a reason why I’m good and there’s a reason why I get in there and win fights. I’m just ready to kind of prove that to people again. I’m pretty damn good and I’m pretty legit.”
If there’s one disappointment surrounding his return to flyweight it’s that Borg feels like his fight against Horiguchi could have higher stakes.
“I was like, this could definitely be a title fight,” Borg said. “I actually had a lot of people assuming it was a title fight, asking me if I was a title fight, and I said it was just a regular old three-round fist-fight. We’ll see what happens in the future. But right now, I’m only looking at getting my hands on Kyoji.”