Fighting Saturday at Gladiator MMA in his opponent’s hometown, Karim Ranni (8-2, amateur) avenged a September loss to Alex Morgan via close decision (play-by-play below). I spoke with the 17 year-old after about why he deserved the decision, how his mental game helped him, his willingness to fight Morgan and other top amateur lightweights, winning an amateur title, and the possibility of going pro.
(9:34, interview in French, click here to listen, or right-click to download here)
After listen to my pre-fight interview w/ Ranni.
Breakdown of the Morgan-Ranni Main Event
160 – Alex Morgan (Gladiator Fight Club Sorel) v. Karim Ranni (Orion MMA)
Karim Ranni wins by unanimous judges’ decision. Takes Gladiator 155 lbs title.
Easily the best fight of the night, both skill and action-wise, there appeared to be some miscommunication ahead of the fight, as Ranni later stated he’d understood it was a five rounds at 155-160 lbs, not 155 lbs. Showing up weighing 161 lbs, the rematch (Morgan won the 1st fight via arm-bar) nonetheless went ahead, with a lightweight amateur belt on the line. Morgan received huge applause, playing up to his hometown crowd as he entered the ring.
Morgan took the 1st, controlling Ranni on the ground for much of the round. After an intense stand-up exchange, where Morgan landed a clean kick to Ranni’s head, Morgan landed a take-down. With Ranni on the ground, Morgan controlled him, eventually gaining full mount. Ranni twisted back and worth, giving Morgan his back several times, during which time Morgan landed a few punches. When Ranni eventually made it back to his feet, he landed a few solid shots before the round ended.
Ranni looked better in the 2nd, as the round again began with stand-up. Ranni eventually caught one of Morgan’s kicks, and used that to gain a takedown. The fight soon returned to the feet, with Ranni beginning to out-strike Morgan, including repeated leg-kicks. After tossing Morgan to the ground, Ranni began attacking him from his feet, landing several solid punches that had Morgan in trouble before the referee stepped in and stood up the fight, citing an illegal hammer-fist on Ranni’s part as the reason (hammer-fists are illegal at the amateur level). The fighters traded more stand-up as the round ended.
The decisive 3rd round was quite close, with Ranni gaining a slight edge. After solid stand-up where both cleanly connected, an uppercut for Morgan, and a jab for Ranni, Morgan landed a takedown that Ranni quickly reversed. Ranni controlled Morgan on the ground for the rest of the round, punching Morgan from side-control, before moving to guard, half-guard and back to his feet without landing much as the fight ended.
The fighters embraced, and Ranni was declared winner by unanimous decision. Despite their dissapointment, the crowd showed its support for the excellent fight. Post-fight, both fighters expressed willingness down the line to fight a third time in a rubber match. Ranni and Morgan are both considered top-5 for Quebec amateur lightweights. Ranni wins the rematch, improves to 8-2, and is crowned the first Gladiator MMA lightweight champ. Morgan falls to 8-2.