Away from the cage, Ray Borg has been in a fight for family and livelihood

Ray Borg is returning on Saturday after 17 months away from the Octagon. Brandon Magnus/Zuffa LLC/Getty Images

PHILADELPHIA -- There were definitely moments in 2018 when UFC bantamweight Ray Borg thought he shouldn't fight anymore. That, in some ways, he couldn't fight anymore.

It's been more than 17 months since Borg, 25, stepped into the Octagon. That inactivity will finally come to an end on Saturday when he meets Casey Kenney (11-1-1) at UFC Fight Night at Wells Fargo Center.

Borg has been scheduled to fight four times during that span, but all of those bouts fell through, for a myriad of reasons. The inactivity placed a tremendous amount of financial strain on his family, and Borg (11-3) did consider just moving on.

"Shortly after [a canceled fight in November], my son went into surgery and I just took some time to hang back and really think about what I wanted to do," Borg told ESPN. "It was in the air if I was going to keep fighting.

"This sport has been so up and down for me, and it just started to hit me that maybe a 9-to-5 would be less stressful on my family. Everything almost drove me away from fighting -- but my son wouldn't allow it. If he was going to keep fighting, there was no way I wasn't going to."

Borg's son, Anthony, was born with the rare brain disease hydrocephalus and has undergone multiple surgeries over the past year. He celebrated his first birthday on Wednesday, and, according to Borg, his condition is "the smoothest it's ever been."

Borg says his entire perception on life has changed over the past year, as he's dealt with his son's health issues and a lack of income from not competing. He also went through his own health problems during that time, and in order to eliminate a severe weight cut that has been tough on him, Borg has moved up from the 125-pound flyweight division. Nonetheless, he missed weight on Friday, coming in at 137.25 pounds, and will surrender 20 percent of his purse to Kenney.

It's been a battle for him just to make it to this fight week. Borg said the simple routine of checking into a hotel on Tuesday was enjoyable. There were times in his career in which a fight could feel stressful, or like work, but after going without it for a year -- and watching his son wage a different kind of fight -- Borg feels blessed to be back.

"For a while, I might have gotten caught up in the feeling of this being an obligation and not a privilege," Borg said. "It's a privilege to be able to do what I do. It's been a different mentality, as far as everything that's gone on with my son.

"Me and my family, we need this fight probably more than anybody on this card needs a fight."