Ray Borg, 19, has finished his first two professional opponents. | Photo: Wilson Fox/Sherdog.com
With the advent of the flyweight and bantamweight divisions in the Ultimate Fighting Championship, a whole new world has opened up to mixed martial artists and fans.
The Albuquerque, N.M.-based FIT NHB gym has operated successfully for more than a decade, producing current UFC talent Tim Means, as well as several King of the Cage champions: Donald Sanchez, Bill Albrecht, Frank Baca and Brenda Gonzales. It has also had a significant hand in the molding of notable fighters such as former UFC interim welterweight champion Carlos Condit and World Extreme Cagefighting veteran Coty Wheeler. About a year ago, it solidified ties with Arizona’s Power MMA Team -- which is home to “The Ultimate Fighter” Season 8 winner Ryan Bader, Aaron Simpson, C.B. Dollaway and others -- when FIT NHB owner and head coach Tom Vaughn assumed head coaching duties for that camp, as well.
The youngest professional fighter at this somewhat under-recognized gym is versatile flyweight Ray Borg. Although he is only 19 years old, Borg has been making a name for himself around the Southwest. Undefeated as an amateur and professional, every one of Borg’s wins has come by first-round submission. His latest victory in January was at 135 pounds, as he submitted Peter Baltimore under the King of the Cage banner with a rear-naked choke 4:03 into the opening frame. However, Borg does not feel his ground game is his greatest asset.
“What’s funny about this is, in each of these fights, it wasn’t me who took it to the ground,” he told Sherdog.com. “I wanted to stand, but they decided to take it to the ground, and that was a mistake on their part.”
Borg was born in Tucson, Ariz., and moved to Tucumcari, N.M., as a teenager. After a year of football, he decided high school sports were not for him. A fan of MMA, he decided he wanted to try it for himself, so he began to train at Cullum Ground Fighting, alongside Dream and EliteXC veteran Abel Cullum. He was hooked at first taste, and he faithfully trained throughout the rest of his high school career, five days a week, three hours per day. Once he graduated, Borg felt he had found his career path, so he moved to Albuquerque to further his training.
“I wanted to step up my game, improve my standup more than anything else, but I wanted everything to evolve,” he said.
Borg had met KOTC veterans Sanchez and Gerald Lovato at several of the state’s grappling tournaments, and he felt that FIT NHB would be the best place to improve his skills. Borg believes he made the right choice, and training under Vaughn has only served to increase his dedication.
“I feel that my best trait would probably be my work ethic,” he said. “I’m in the gym a minimum of twice a day, making sure that I put in my time and work hard so that when I step in the cage, it makes it that much easier. I’m always coming forward, and I’m never one to turn down a fight.
“If my coach tells me, ‘Hey, I got a fight for you,’ I’ve never asked, ‘Who is it?’ or ‘What’s their record?’ I just say, ‘Sounds good. Where do I sign?’ So I feel that my toughness and willingness to take on anyone are good qualities,” Borg said.
His coaches and teammates rave about his approach, maturity and development.
“Ray is a young, well-rounded mixed martial artist with a maturity in training ethic and competition,” Vaughn said. “Ray is exciting to watch and has a killer instinct. All early indications are that Ray can and will compete at the highest level.”
A consummate team player, Borg seems to only lack seasoning, and, at 19, time remains on his side. FIT NHB co-owner Arlene Sanchez-Vaughn, a world champion kickboxer, believes his combination of ability and drive will carry him a long way in MMA.
“Ray is an all- around MMA fighter; he’s a boxer, muay Thai fighter, wrestler and grappler,” she said. “He has fast footwork, fast hands and quick takedowns. He’s not just a fighter but an athlete. He has dreams and goals, and he works hard every day to make them happen. He is always there for his teammates. Ray is a must-see in the 125-pound pro MMA division.”
Sanchez, a stablemate at FIT NHB, has watched Borg from the beginning and thinks the young flyweight has a bright future.
“Even from his first amateur fight,” Sanchez said, “I’ve said he is something and someone to keep an eye on.”