It’s not too often when MMA fans get to witness a nearly invincible title reign by a fighter who has been the only champion the division has ever had.
Well, one of those rare competitors is Demetrious “Mighty Mouse” Johnson, who has dominated the UFC’s flyweight division for nearly five years now. Up until 2012, Johnson had never even fought in the 125-pound weight class. His entire career to that point had taken place at bantamweight, where he took on a lot of top-level fighters that were naturally bigger and stronger than him.
While the bantamweights couldn’t compete with Johnson’s quickness, they were still able to solve the puzzle of outpointing him on the feet and out-wrestling him. Yet, even all these years later, Johnson has still never been knocked out, though, which is a true testament to his footwork, cardio and speed. You can almost count on one hand the number of active fighters who have never been knocked out or submitted in their careers. It’s such a rarity that you have to appreciate when that kind of fighter is still around.
In the flyweight division, Johnson has found his true home. It’s all the things Mighty Mouse was already good, but at a weight where his opponents don’t have the size to neutralize him. You would think the fighters who are lighter would be able to match his skills. They can’t. The scary thing is, he only gets better each time, improving on all of the mistakes (albeit, minor) he thinks he made in his last outing.
Not only is Johnson a consummate professional, but he’s an absolute perfectionist, which means the opponents that face him have to match or outdo his perfection, which stems from his incredible work ethic. That’s what has catapulted Mighty Mouse to the top as the pound-for-pound best fighter in the world, which is a very well-deserved accolade that many fellow fighters wouldn’t take away from him.
After Mighty Mouse beat top contender Wilson Reis via an armbar submission in April for his 10th title defense, tying the all-time record set by Anderson Silva, the MMA community has wondered who can possibly be next to challenge Johnson.
Step in, Ray Borg.
Of course, while Borg may not be the ideal choice that we have been waiting for, he’s basically the only top flyweight Johnson hasn’t beaten who has still had an impressive run in the UFC. With a career record of 11-2, Borg’s only two losses came in the UFC. Borg has gone 5-2 fighting for the world’s best combat organization. His first loss was in his UFC debut in a very close split decision against wrestler Dustin Ortiz. He had a fairly lopsided loss to crafty striker Justin Scoggins in 2016, which was a tough striker-vs.-grappler match-up. Borg made up for his second loss with impressive victories over fellow top contenders Louis Smolka and Jussier “Formiga” da Silva. The wins essentially earned Borg a shot at the title.
With this fight on the horizon — it’s set for Sept. 9 as the main event of UFC 215 — the question now becomes, will Borg have what it takes to finally give Mighty Mouse the toughest fight in his flyweight career?
Nobody is expecting Borg to show the champion something he hasn’t seen. As is typically the case with Johnson’s opponents, Borg will probably have the power advantage, and if he’s able to land a shot right on the chin, he can probably knock out the champ. However, that’s a very big if.
While Borg, nicknamed “The Tazmexican Devil,” has had some nice wins, many resulting in “Performance of the Night” awards, he’s also had a couple issues making weight. In two fights, both of which he would go on to win, he was unable to make weight. In one of those fights, he actually missed weight by three and a half pounds, which is fairly significant, especially when you’re being considered for a championship fight.
So his weight might put into question Borg’s ability to be ready on fight night against the best fighter in the world. There’s also the matter of whether he’ll be at full strength and not drained from cutting so much weight. As we all know, weight-cutting has become a serious issue. It’s gotten particularly harder for the fighters, since the USADA has outlawed the use of an IV to help with recovery and re-hydration after a weigh-in. The IVs were permitted by the UFC until the USADA, the world’s best organization for steroid testing, took over the reigns for making sure there are no unfair advantages, which isn’t only relegated to what substances a fighter takes.
Luckily, it appears that the weight-cutting for Borg isn’t so significant to where people have to be worried about the fight being tainted. There are many more fighters that have become notorious for never making weight, or barely getting there, but still being too physically drained to fight to their potential. Borg isn’t one of them. So, putting aside a couple unfortunate transgressions, he’s been pretty good on the scales.
Hopefully this will be a competitive battle once the cage door closes. The hope is that the bout can breathe some life back into a flyweight division suffering through a lot of unfair criticism for not being as exciting to watch, compared to other weight classes. Unfortunately, this is also a product of a division that is ruled by one fighter. People become bored of seeing the same person fighting and beating everyone so easily. While Johnson is fun to watch for some, his style is not aesthetically pleasing for other fight fans.
Of course, none of this is Johnson’s fault. And maybe, if he were to have some better competition to face — or if he were to be marketed better by the UFC, per his demands — then there wouldn’t be as much of a problem.
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