Demetrious Johnson was supposed to have a chance at making history by fighting Ray Borg at UFC 215. A win over Borg would have marked the 11th defense of Johnson’s 125-pound flyweight title, breaking longtime middleweight great Anderson Silva’s record of 10 defenses. That opportunity is gone after Borg had to withdraw late on Thursday night because of an illness.
Weigh-ins took place Friday morning, and although sources claim that Borg’s illness wasn’t connected to cutting weight, he has missed weight for UFC fights twice in the past. One side effect of weight cutting is a weakened immune system that makes fighters more susceptible to illness.
For Johnson, this is just the latest in a string of issues since he defended his belt for the 10th time against Wilson Reis earlier this year. Johnson is the promotion’s only flyweight champion, and before the fight with Borg was setup, he had a very public spat with UFC president Dana White.
Johnson claims that he originally wanted to fight Sergio Pettis for his 11th defense, as he felt Pettis was the bigger name and more deserving of the title shot. The UFC forced him into accepting the fight against Borg. However, TJ Dillashaw, the number-one contender in bantamweight, one weight class above flyweight, found himself without a fight when champion Cody Garbrandt suffered a back injury.
Dillashaw told White that he wanted to fight Johnson while waiting for Garbrandt to heal. White liked the idea, but Johnson didn’t think it was fair for Dillashaw to cut the line, and wasn’t sure Dillashaw could make the weight, since he had never done so before at 125 pounds. When Johnson asked for financial compensation should Dillashaw fail to make weight, the UFC told him that Borg would be on standby in case that happened. Johnson didn’t feel that a last-minute replacement would be appropriate for a title fight in the world’s largest MMA promotion.
Johnson versus Borg was set to be the main event, and now that it’s off, the co-main event, a women’s bantamweight title fight between champion Amanda Nunes and challenger Valentina Shevchenko, slide into the main event spot.
The UFC plans to have Johnson defend his flyweight title soon, but there are no set plans right now. It remains to be seen if Borg will still get to fight for the title or if he lost that opportunity.