No interview with Albuquerque MMA fighter Ray Borg can begin without this question: How’s Anthony?
The answer, it is satisfying to report, is “he’s doing great.”
Anthony Borg, son of Ray and Amanda, turned 1 year old Wednesday. After a nightmarish series of surgeries related to hydrocephalus, an abnormal building of cerebrospinal fluid in the brain, he has made remarkable progress.
“He’s doing normal little kid stuff, and that’s great to see,” Ray Borg said on Wednesday in a phone interview.
Thus, it’s a with a clear mind that Anthony’s dad approaches his bantamweight fight Saturday against Casey Kenney on a UFC card in Philadelphia.
A clear mind is exactly what Borg needs, given all the could-be negatives he faces.
For a variety of reasons, most but not all connected to Anthony’s condition, Borg has not fought since losing a UFC flyweight title fight to then-champion Demetrious Johnson in October 2017.
Meanwhile, the identity of his opponent for Saturday kept changing: first Pingyuan Liu, then Kyler Phillips and now Kenney, who entered the picture Tuesday after Phillips dropped out for undisclosed reasons.
Kenney is a southpaw. Borg had been preparing for Phillips, a right-hander.
Then, there’s been a major change in Borg’s training base. He has left Jackson-Wink MMA, where he had trained since 2016 after leaving his original gym, FIT-NHB.
Borg (11-3) said he essentially has conducted a private training camp for this fight, but did his sparring at the original Jackson’s MMA on Acoma Road SE.
He said Nick Urso, Jackson’s on Acoma co-manager and a former Borg opponent, will work his corner on Saturday.
“We buried the hatchet,” he said of his old adversary. “We talked, and we just decided we could help each other.”
Of his departure from Jackson-Wink, Borg declined to go into detail. “There were just some things going on over there that I wasn’t happy with,” he said. “It just wasn’t right for me.”
None of the above, Borg said, bothers him at all in preparation for Saturday. After almost 17 months out of the Octagon, he just wants to get his career going again.
That said, he does not minimize the importance of this fight.
“I see this fight as a must-win, do-or-die,” he said. “It’s very important to win this fight.”
Kenney (11-1-1) is a UFC newcomer, but then again he’s not. He twice has fought on UFC President Dana White’s Tuesday Night Contender series, winning once and losing once, but was not offered a UFC contract on either occasion. But now, with Phillips unavailable, here he is.
Kenney is a current Legacy Fighting Alliance champion at both flyweight and bantamweight (135 pounds). He last fought just six days ago, dispatching Vince Cachero with a head kick in the first found of a fight for the LFA interim flyweight title.
Though Kenney may lack UFC experience, he clearly does not lack confidence.
After his dramatic stoppage of Cachero, Kenney climbed to the top of the cage fence and shouted, “I’m the best flyweight/bantamweight in the world!”
Borg was unimpressed.
“Guys say a lot of things with their adrenaline up after a win,” he said.
It’s a feeling Borg hopes to have for the first time in the Octagon since March 2017, when he beat Brazil’s Jussier “Formiga” da Silva by unanimous decision.
Nothing, though, could compare to the feeling of knowing that Anthony is healthy and happy.
Saturday’s card is labeled “UFC on ESPN2,), but Borg’s fight is on the prelim portion of the card available only via streaming on ESPN+. The ESPN+ portion of the card is scheduled to start at 1:30 p.m.
Strawweight Michelle Waterson (16-6), Borg’s former Jackson-Wink teammate, is scheduled to face Poland’s Karolina Kowalkiewicz (12-3) on the main card, scheduled to begin at 5 p.m.