The Weight Cutting Chronicles – UFC Philadelphia: The Return of Ray Borg, The Menace at Featherweight, and Alex Perez

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Michael Johnson UFC Philadelphia
Credit: Jay Anderson/Cageside Press

UFC Philadelphia features a few fighters who have fluctuated in their weight classes.

Like it or not, weight-cutting is deeply rooted in mixed martial arts. MMA adopted its weight-cutting from the sport of wrestling, where it is presumed to be very advantageous to be the biggest and strongest in your weight class. Known as the ‘fight before the fight,’ most UFC fighters cut anywhere from 5-25 pounds, with some fighters even in excess of 30 pounds.

Weight-cutting is the ultimate test of discipline and willpower. Many fighters in the sport consider it very unprofessional to miss weight. In this series, we will shine a light on fighters who cut a massive amount of weight, who have missed weight multiple times in the past, who have made weight-class changes, along with how the weight-cut and weigh-in could affect possible upcoming match-ups. Basically, every aspect of weight-cutting and how it affects the fight game in the UFC.

Michael “The Menace” Johnson (19-13 MMA, 11-9 UFC)

Michael Johnson was, for a long time, one of the top 15 lightweights in the UFC’s division. Johnson faced some of the top-tier fighters in this division and even though he always did well, he never did quite enough to position himself for an ever-elusive shot at the UFC lightweight belt. Michael’s last five losses were to Darren Elkins, Justin Gaethje, Khabib Nurmagomedov, Nate Diaz and Beneil Dariush. But, Michael has KOd Dustin Poirier, beat Edson Barboza and gave Tony Ferguson his last loss. Quite the resume to say the least.

Johnson moved down to featherweight after his war with Gaethje. The Menace would face The Damage, Darren Elkins, in January of 2018. Even though Johnson lost the fight, he looked promising and decided to stay the course. His next two fights, against Andre Fili and Artem Lobov are his most recent fights and both are decision victories. But, in Johnson’s last fight against Lobov, he missed weight. It is worth mentioning that he took this fight on just two weeks’ notice and weighed in at 147lbs. It doesn’t seem like Johnson struggles to make weight, but two weeks was just too short an amount of time to make the weight. The Menace moved down specifically to evade the deep waters of the lightweight division, so he is on a shorter leash in terms of missing weight. Keeping this in mind, it’s doubtful a weight miss happens again, if anything, look for a change in Johnson’s performance on fight night.

Ray “The Tazmexican Devil” Borg (11-3 MMA, 5-3 UFC)

A welcome back is in order for Ray Borg, as it has been a long path back to the Octagon for him. Ray has had an an incredibly bad streak of luck since his last bout against Demetrious Johnson in October of 2017. Since that fight, Ray Borg has had six separate fights cancelled. Borg was a victim of the Conor McGregor bus attack at UFC 223, personal issues (infant son required brain surgeries), other miscellaneous medical injuries, and a bizarre rash of opponents dropping out. On top of all of this, Borg now has to move up in weight to the 135-pound bantamweight division.

Ray has struggled mightily in the past in order to make the flyweight limit of 126lbs. As a matter of fact, Borg had missed weight twice since 2015 at 125. So with the UFC’s flyweight division fading away, its a no-brainier for Borg to move up to a more natural weight class for him. Borg’s last fight, even though it was a while ago, was against arguably the greatest pound-for-pound fighter of all time and even though he was finished, it was not until the fifth round. That says something about this man.

Alex Perez (21-5 MMA, 3-1 UFC)

Alex Perez is a 27-year-old opening up the card and making his way up the ranks of the UFC. Perez earned his shot in the UFC by winning in impressive fashion on Dana White’s Tuesday Night Contender Series in 2017. Perez was signed to the UFC and subsequently moved up to the bantamweight division and finished his opponent, Carls John de Tomas by D’Arce choke in the second round. In Perez’s next time out he moved back down to the flyweight division and he missed weight by a half pound. Nevertheless, Alex would go on to win this bout. Next, Alex dispatched the undefeated Jose Torres in one round at UFC 227, extending his win streak in the Octagon to three.

The flyweight division was very shallow to say the least during this time, so Perez found himself climbing the ranks pretty quickly. However, Alex’s win streak came to a screeching halt when he faced Joseph Benavidez in November of 2018. Benavidez mangled Perez and ground-and-pounded him out of there in the very first round. With the fate of the UFC’s flyweight division hanging in the balance, Alex Perez is moving back up to the bantamweight division to try and make a run at the belt.

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