Sorel-Tracy – When amateurs Alex Morgan and Karim Ranni meet this Saturday in Gladiator MMA’s main event, it won’t be for the first time. Last September, Morgan submitted Ranni via 2nd round arm-bar at Ring Extreme 14 in Quebec City.
Six months later, Ranni (7-2, am) is determined to avenge the loss. “I know I’m better than him, simply put,” says the 17 year-old, who trains his Muay Thai, Jiu-Jitsu and wrestling out of Orion MMA in Longeuil. “A lot happened the day of our last fight, and it affected me. I made some mistakes with my ground-and-pound, but I’ve fixed that.”
Faced with Ranni’s confidence, Alex Morgan (8-1, am) is ready. “Karim is well-rounded, and dangerous,” says the 19 year-old. “He’s going to better than six months ago, but that’s to be expected. I will be too. I’ve been training much harder than the last time I fought him.” Morgan was last seen a month ago guillotining his opponent in 17 seconds at Summum 3. He insists he won’t underestimate Ranni. “I know I need to be wiser and more strategic to beat him.”
The rematch will be in Morgan’s home town in Sorel-Tracy at the Gladiator MMA Fight Club gym. “We built it, me and my coach (Pascal Chambodie),” he says. Ranni, for his part isn’t worried about the hometown advantage. “In nine fights I’ve fought at home once,” he says. “It doesn’t worry me. When the bell rings, I’m fully concentrated on winning.”
Gladiator MMA is a collaboration between Fight Sports Promotions (Summum MMA’s parent company) and the Gladiator Fight Club gym in Sorel-Tracy, where the event will take place. There will be ten fights in total, made up of amateurs from ten different teams.
In the co-main event, Michael ‘the Kid’ Dufort (7-1, am) faces fellow bantamweight Steven Lamy, his most seasoned opponent yet. Lamy sports a 15-9 amateur record, and lost his sole pro fight at Ringside 1 in 2009 via rear-naked choke. That move has recently been Dufort’s calling card. He’s pulled off four consecutive 1st-round submissions (the last three by RNC), against the likes of Neil Sheppard and Jonathan Kumps.
Though Lamy has three times as many amateur fights, Dufort isn’t sweating the gap. “I don’t care about my opponents’ record,” says the Fight Club St-Jean 17 year-old. “It just tells me he’s got experience. Maybe he won’t fall for some of the easier tricks on the ground, but I still plan to take him there and finish him.” If he is deprived of going to the ground, Dufort is still confident. “Stand-up doesn’t scare me. I train that a lot too, so I’ll be ready.”
New prospect Mario Pereira (3-0, am), last seen submitting his opponent by 3rd-round arm-bar at Summum 3, will also return for the card, meeting Guillaume Frechette (1-2, am).
Inspired by the success of wrestling-based fighters like Matt Hughes, and Gray Maynard, Pereira began training MMA six months ago after eight years of amateur wrestling. “I’ve been hooked ever since,” says the 21 year-old, who finished 2nd in the 68 kg (150 lbs) division at this year’s Canadian Inter-university Sport wrestling nationals. “Come every fight, I’m getting better.” His success in wrestling has kept him driven, and confident. “I know I’ll beat my opponent because I’m sure I’m working harder than he is. I don’t fight to lose.”
Like Alex Morgan, Pereira will be fighting in his home gym in Sorel. “I want to show everyone that you don’t have to be located in Montreal to be a good team,” he says.
Gladiator MMA fight card (weight divisions bold, records are amateur)
Main Event – for the Gladiator Lightweight title
155 – Alex Morgan (8-1, Gladiator Fight Club Sorel) v. Karim Ranni (7-2, Orion MMA)
140 – Michael Dufort (7-1, Fight Club St-Jean) v. Steven Lamy (15-9, Steevie boxe)
150 – Guillaume Frechette (1-2, Team Venom) v. Mario Pereira (3-0, Gladiator FC Sorel)
180 – Jonathan Roblin (2-1-1, Team Barbarian) v. Kevyn Thouin (1-0, Team Venom)
185 – David Morin (2-1, Gladiator FC Sorel) v. David Pouliot (2-0, Spartan Fight Club)
170 – Steven Campbell (0-0, St-Hya MMA) v. Patrick Chayer (0-0, Team Barbarian)
145 – Samuel Giguere (2-1, Karaté-Jitsu Beauce) v. Mike Héroux (0-1, Team Venom)
160 – Patrick Archambeault (1-0, Team Barbarian) v. Eric Bessette (2-2, Ultimaction)
200 – Frederick Héroux (0-0, Team Venom) v. Carl Loubert (0-0, Spartan FC)
155 – Sébastien Narbonne (0-0, Team Barbarian) v. Julien Ravart (1-1, Orion MMA)
Fights take place under amateur rules. On top of being in a ring, the three rounds are 2 minutes each, instead of five. Fighters wear 12 ounce gloves and shin pads. Elbow and knee strikes are prohibited.