"Even though I have to work on all my skills regardless, I have an advantage because it’s already put together." - Ray Borg
Things could have gotten out of hand for Ray Borg had he not received the call about making his UFC debut this Saturday against Dustin Ortiz just 30 minutes following his April 4 submission of Nick Urso.
Really out of hand.
“I’m glad I found out when I did,” the 20-year-old explains. “I have a pretty deep obsession with Twinkies (Laughs), so normally after my fights I scarf down a bunch of Twinkies, but luckily I got the notice really soon, so I just went back to my diet.”
That meant that this weekend’s bout in Orlando will be at flyweight, not featherweight, but all kidding aside, that April 4 night in Albuquerque was one he won’t ever forget.
“It’s still pretty unreal to me and it hasn’t quite sunk in, but those three days were probably the best three days I ever had in my life,” said Borg of his first weekend as a UFC fighter. “I beat a top prospect (Urso) who I heard the UFC was considering and I put him away, and the next thing I know, I’m getting a call, and it was very surreal for me. I might have cried a little bit (Laughs), but I enjoyed it with my family and my little brother and hung out the whole weekend with them and had a good time.”
A member of the Jackson-Winkeljohn MMA team, Urso brought a six-fight winning streak into his bout with Borg, who represents the other big MMA gym in the ABQ, Tom Vaughn’s FITNHB. For a little refresher course, Vaughn brought Carlos Condit to prominence, works with UFC vet Tim Means, and he’s one of the more underrated coaches in the sport. It was a great matchup in the Legacy Fighting Championship promotion, pitting two top prospects against each other, and when it was over, it was Borg picking up the impressive win. Next came a call he didn’t expect as soon as he got it.
“To be truly honest, I thought I was close, but I didn’t think I was that close,” he said. “I thought it would come a few months down the road, and I was thinking it was a possibility to get on the June 7th card in Albuquerque. That was my mindset. I had no clue it would be this soon.”
Currently the second youngest fighter in the UFC, right after Sergio Pettis, who only has that number one spot by two weeks, Borg is like the bantamweight phenom in that he’s one of the new breed of fighters that didn’t come from another discipline to MMA, but who learned it all at once. In Borg’s case, he began real early.
“I started training in MMA when I was 13, and I didn’t start training in beginner’s classes,” he recalls. “I was fed to the wolves with the guys I was training with. But I have a huge edge because even though I have to work on all my skills regardless, I have an advantage because it’s already put together. I’m not a wrestler having to learn how to mix my striking with my wrestling, or a grappler learning how to take a punch while grappling. I know how to put it all together.”
And as he found out early on, in his gym you either sink or swim, and Borg is obviously a good swimmer, as he won four amateur bouts, all by submission, all in 1:44 or less, and has continued his success in the pro ranks. But through it all, he’s probably one of the most level-headed 20 year olds you will ever run into.
“I’m a very humble person,” he said. “I don’t walk around the stores and the malls looking at everyone like ‘yeah, I’m a UFC fighter.’ I’m just a regular person doing what I love for a living and I keep it together very well. I’m very blessed to be one of the very few people out there in the world who get to make money doing what they love.”
Just don’t get between him and his Twinkies. That would spell trouble.