It was to be the main event of UFC 215, until it wasn’t. In a story well known to MMA fans by now, Ray Borg suffered a last minute illness that saw him forced off the card in Edmonton last month. As a result, Demetrious Johnson’s attempt at setting a new UFC title defense record was pushed back to UFC 216. Instead of being the main attraction, Mighty Mouse vs. Borg was slotted in as the co-main event — but it remained every bit as significant. Surely much more so than yet another interim title.
It was history in the making Saturday night at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Mighty Mouse opened up with leg kicks early, and immediately his speed was on display. Borg ate a few before finally checking one, but through the first minute, he was unable to get any offense of his own off. At best, the challenger was able to move forward, but mostly because of Johnson’s superior movement — Johnson was never really in danger. Ninety seconds in, Johnson managed to take Borg’s back; it seemed Borg had little to offer and simply sat down for a moment, but he would escape.
Borg would finally turn things around and charge in for a takedown, but was unable to finish it initially, though he did hang on to Johnson’s leg. Mighty Mouse spun out of the single leg and transitioned to Borg’s back, landing some blows to the side of Borg’s head. The champ then moved into half guard, and with two minutes remaining in the opening stanza, Borg had yet to land a single strike. Johnson would look for a submission, switching from an Americana to a head-and-arm choke, then allowing Borg to briefly hold a guillotine so he could step over into side control. Johnson then worked for a kimura, but couldn’t hold it.
Ray Borg came out with heavy pressure to open the second frame, no doubt knowing how badly his showing in the first had looked. He’d initiate a clinch against the cage, but Johnson quickly reversed. Borg briefly threatened with a guillotine, but the champ escaped with ease. The challenger then changed levels and secured a takedown; Johnson popped back up, but Borg repeated the feat, and as Johnson stood back up Borg took his back.
Johnson, however, was just too much to handle, dumping Borg off his back. That allowed Demetrious Johnson to move into top control. Looking for a crucifix, Johnson peppered Borg with punches then again flirted with a kimura.
Once again, most of the action featured Johnson utilizing incredibly slick transitions to move out of harm’s way almost at ease, mixing in strikes and looking for submissions. Johnson would score a takedown in the second, and finish the round with things well under control.
Borg would catch a kick early in round three and threaten with a single-leg takedown, but yet again Mighty Mouse showed how easily he can transition and escape. Moments later, the champ was on top, working to trap his opponent’s arm and land more ground and pound.
Borg would threaten briefly with a guillotine at the round’s end, but through three, the champion had won every round in a fight that was far from close.
Ray Borg once more came out strong in the fourth round, picking up Johnson and slamming him to the mat. However, he could not hold him there, and soon Mighty Mouse was free and in half guard with Borg on his back. The rest of the round? More slick transitions from the champ, and a challenger utterly unable to find a solution to one of the most dominant champions in MMA history.
Round five opened with Mighty Mouse scoring the takedown and moving immediately to side control. With no hope for a win save a finish, Borg needed to fight desperate, but that proved awfully hard with Johnson controlling the action. It looked as if Mighty Mouse was sailing to a lopsided unanimous decision, when suddenly Johnson dumped Borg to the canvas and expertly transitioned into perfect position for an arm-bar. More accurately, Johnson was already moving into position before Borg had fully landed. Borg put up a valiant struggle but was forced to tap, giving Demetrious “Mighty Mouse” Johnson his history-making eleventh title defense!
Demetrious Johnson def. Ray Borg by submission (arm-bar), Round 5, 3:15