Gladiator MMA 2 Recap – Controversial Ranni/Morgan Decision Reversal
Saturday’s Gladiator MMA 2 amateur event in Sorel-Tracy, North-East of Montreal, was the setting for an exciting rematch between Karim Ranni and Alex Morgan, two top-five Quebec lightweight prospects.
Locking horns, the confident opponents entered the main event looking to take the lead in the third fight of their amateur series.
Their first encounter last September ended when Morgan submitted Ranni via a 2nd round arm-bar. When they faced off for a second time in April, this time with a new Gladiator lightweight belt on the line, Ranni evened the score in Morgan’s hometown of Sorel, coming away with a decision and the title at Gladiator MMA 1.
Back home, and now Victory MMA lightweight champ after a hotly contested decision over Kyle Nelson three weeks ago, Morgan, 10-2 going in, looked Saturday night to avenge his loss to Ranni, and amass a second amateur title in the process.
For his part, Ranni, 8-3 going in, looked to prove the April decision hadn’t been a fluke. Coming in off a compressed ten day training camp that followed a month-long break for Ramadan, he re-entered hostile territory to defend his belt.
As in April, Saturday’s clash was a closely fought one, moving over the three rounds from the feet to the ground, and back up again. Both sides seemed confident they’d earned the decision at the fight’s conclusion.
The crowd, a collection of 300 or so loud and rowdy fans, filled the expansive Salle Tandem reception hall. Clearly pulling for the home team, they’d positively erupted during Morgan’s entrance. Now, with the three rounds elapsed, they awaited the bout’s official outcome.
The judges’ unanimous decision, delivered by announcer Klod Genest, was contested from almost the second it was published, spilling over into an argument backstage between the opposing sides’ coaches. It wasn’t the only judges’ decision Saturday to be vehemently protested, with another reaction ending in physical confrontation with an official.
Julien Dumont served as referee for the evening’s 12 bouts. Sanctioned by the ‘Federation Quebecoise de Boxe Mixte Amateur’ (FQBM), Saturday’s fights took place under amateur rules. On top of being in a ring, the three rounds are two minutes each (three minutes for title fights). Fighters wear 12 ounce gloves and shin pads. Elbow and knee strikes, hammer-fists, and submissions involving twisting (e.g. heel hooks), are all prohibited.
Full Results (weight divisions in bold)
155 – Karim Ranni (Orion) def. Alex Morgan (Team Chambodie) via unanimous judges’ decision. (Decision later overturned and ruled a draw).
– Early in the 1st round, Ranni caught one of Morgan’s kicks, and took him to the ground. In Morgan’s guard, Ranni wasn’t able to land much, nor advance his position. Ranni opted to get back to his feet, and kicked Morgan’s leg, before Morgan made it back to his feet. After the fighters traded for a bit, Ranni again caught a Morgan kick, and followed it with another takedown. Back in Morgan’s gaurd, Ranni rose to his feet and delivered more kicks to Morgan’s legs as time ran out.
Seen live, the last two rounds were too close to definitively award to either fighter.
In the 2nd, Morgan landed an early takedown that Ranni immediately bounced back up from. Shortly after, Morgan again took Ranni down, this time via suplex. Morgan took Ranni’s back, and rained down with body punches. Ranni turtled up, protecting his neck and arms from submission attempts, biding his time. About half way through the round, Ranni swept Morgan, ending up in his guard. Ranni threw head punches from the ground and then his feet, as well as a kick to Morgan’s leg. Morgan could be seen baiting Ranni from his back, inviting him to dive in as time ran down.
The 3rd took place entirely on the feet, Ranni sprawling Morgan’s takedown attempt, the only one of the round. The fighters circled, Morgan looking slightly more aggressive, Ranni opting to land his shots on the counter. Morgan connected with an uppercut, right hooks, and a series of straight punches, while Ranni landed straight rights, hooks, and leg kicks. The fighters traded to the final bell, neither able to visibly rock or daze the other.
Scored as winner on all three judges’ cards, Ranni was declared winner, though his triumph was to be short-lived. Morgan’s camp, including the event’s promoter Pascal Chambodie, appealed the decision backstage to Fernand Morneau, head of the governing Federation Quebecoise de Boxe Mixte Amateur.
After a video recording of the bout was viewed backstage by Morneau, both camps, and a third, neutral observer, Morneau offered to have the fight changed to a draw, with the condition that Ranni would again defend the belt against Morgan, but this time at an event in his own gym.
Per Morneau, the logic was that while the fight, save for the 1st round, was extremely close, with the 2nd and 3rd rounds arguably going either way, Morgan’s performance wasn’t enough to win the belt from Ranni.
The judges’ decision was overturned in favour of a draw, a compromise Ranni’s team seemed reluctant to accept, not clearly acquiescing. Correspondingly, with the changed decision, Ranni is still champion.
Along with partisanship, the amateur judging system, which awards points for some but not all of the criteria the pro system does, likely contributed to the difference of opinions. Speaking to coaches and fighters at several amateur events, many seem unfamiliar with its finer details. Further, during pre-event rules meetings, the judging system isn’t usually explained.
Speaking to all sides after the fight, the judges said they gave Ranni the 1st and 3rd rounds (the 3rd due to his combining kicks with his punches), and Morgan the 2nd. Ranni’s Orion team, led by Kru Ash, felt he won the 1st, the 2nd was a draw, and the 3rd was narrowly for Ranni. Not surprisingly, Morgan’s camp saw it differently, feeling that while Ranni had won the 1st round, Morgan had done enough to win the last two.
Whether the fighters will face off for a fourth time in the near future remains to be seen. Ranni’s camp expressed interest in matching him against new opponents, and also felt the belt should have been defended Saturday in the champion’s backyard, not the challenger’s. That the title is awarded by a location-based promoter, not a geography-neutral federation, obviously complicates the issue.
With both fighters likely going pro in the next year or so, a preferable alternative may be for them to wait until then to fully settle the feud, when a wider range of offense is permitted. The quality of their match-ups approaches the professional, and Morgan’s coach himself admitted it may be a more attractive option. Ultimately, the rivalry is by all accounts borne more of athletic competitiveness than personal dislike between the teams.
With the new draw outcome, Rani is now 8-3-1 as an amateur, and Morgan 10-2-1.
145 – Alex Baez (Mcgowan’s MMA) def. Michael Parent (Shiokaido FC) via TKO (ground and pound) at 1:20 of Round 2.
– After landing an early leg kick in the 1st round, Parent slipped while coming in. Baez took advantage, connecting with punches from his feet, as Parent attempted to catch him in an arm-bar. After Parent made it back to his feet, Baez landed a takedown, and again hit Parent with punches.
In the 2nd, Baez landed a right-left straight combo, before being taken down by Parent. Baez used a bridge to sweep out of full mount, and rained down punches until the fight was stopped by the referee.
With the win, Baez improved to 3-2 as an amateur, while Parent fell to 4-2.
180 – Olivier Moreaux (Orion) def. Mathieu Langlais (Gladiateur FC) via unanimous judges’ decision.
– A close fight, the 1st round saw Langlais repeatedly swarm in on Moureaux, but fail to land most of his punches. Moureaux hit back with leg kicks, and a near take-down. In the 2nd, Moreaux again went with leg kicks, as the fighters swung with little connecting. A Moureaux head kick attempt was partially blocked, but contributed to a mouse developing under Langlais’s right eye. By the 3rd, both fighters looked tired, with the crowd working hard to boost up their hometown fighter. After a punch got his nose bleeding, Moureaux hit back with more kicks, before moving to grab Langlais from behind. After Moureaux pulled him down, Langlais ended up in side-control, before moving to full-mount, without landing much offense. The fight finished with the fighters clinching.
Moureaux was awarded the win, likely off of the 1st and 2nd rounds.
165 – Michael Cyr (Ultimaction) fights Jordan Turcotte (Force Extrême) to a draw.
– Fighting for a third straight Saturday, Cyr battled the experienced Turcotte to a draw, repeatedly getting caught in guillotines in the process. Besides breaking out of two guillotines in the 1st round, Cyr also landed two straight rights, and some punches in guard. In the 2nd, Cyr landed a left hook-right straight combo, and after escaping another guillotine attempt, landed some ground-and-pound while in Turcotte’s guard. Cyr appeared to be head-hunting by the 3rd, landing a left hook before getting caught in yet another guillotine on his feet. After escaping, Cyr landed a few punches as the fight finished.
The fight was announced as a draw, much to the chagrin of both sides, who felt they’d won the fight. (Of note, Turcotte controlled long stretches of the fight with his guillotines, but submission attempts aren’t counted for points at the amateur level. Further, when the fighters went down during the chokes, it could easily have been scored either as takedowns Cyr, or Turcotte pulling him down to further his submission).
Discontented, Cyr’s head coach ‘Big’ Ben Gallant, a former pro fighter with a 2-1 record, loudly berated head judge Loic-Pascal Magnier ringside for the decision. For his part, Cyr flipped over the empty judge’s chair as he exited past the judges’ table.
According to witnesses, Guy Lamontagne, another member of Cyr’s Drumondville entourage, then began arguing with referee Julien Dumont, himself a former amateur competitor. As the altercation escalated, Lamontagne pushed Dumont into the ring stairs, before eventually backing off. The draw outcome stood. In the end, the Ultimaction team’s post-fight behaviour appears to have been chalked up to an emotional overreaction, with no punishment imposed by the FQBM.
190 – Vincent Houle (Orion) submits Hayden Bye (Mcgowan’s MMA) via reverse triangle from the top at 1:07 of Round 2.
– After taking the 1st round by outstriking and twice taking down Bye, Houle got the finish in the 2nd round after again taking Bye down, moving to side control, throwing some punches, then stepping over an locking in a rarely seen reverse triangle from top position.
150 – Yannick Mercier (Gladiateur FC) submits Paul-André Senésac (Team Extreme) via guillotine choke at 1:19 of Round 1.
– Entering to Right Said Fred’s ‘I’m Too Sexy,’ Mercier played up his popularity with the home crowd by offering a mock striptease as he removed his shirt along the entrance ramp. Once the fight started, Mercier looked highly aggressive, connecting with hooks, an uppercut, and a right-left-right combo, along with a brief takedown. As the fighters swung wildly, Mercier caught Senesac’s head, locked in a guillotine, and got the 1st round tap as he pulled the submission to the ground.
170 – Johan Cuevas (Mcgowan’s MMA) def. Louis Charles Gareau (Team Extreme) via TKO (retirement) at 0:56 of Round 3.
– Following a gentlemen’s agreement backstage, this bout was fought under kick-boxing rules (striking only). Of note, neither side bothered to inform the referee and judges of this, leading to a confusing moment in the 1st round when Gareau opted to lock Cuevas into a standing arm-triangle, contradicting the agreement. Confused by the hold, Cuevas protested to the referee, who at first wasn’t sure what to make of it. The hold was broken and the fight restarted after officials were brought up to speed.
After a close 1st round, Cuevas began to take control in the 2nd, hitting Gareau with straight rights, and punch-kick combos. With his nose bleeding half-way through the 3rd round, Gareau waved off the fight after getting hammered with a spinning back kick, more straight rights, and a superman punch.
140 – Alex Côté (Gladiateur FC) def. Joe Quérillon (Force Extrême) via unanimous judges’ decision.
– After Côté won the 1st round with leg kicks and a guillotine attempt on Quérillon, the last two rounds were spent mostly on the feet with the fighters circling, and not much connecting. Côté more clearly had an advantage in the 2nd, landing a right hook and some kicks. The 3rd saw Côté hit a superman punch, and some more right hooks, but also eat a few shots from Quérillon.
185 – Jason Finn (Gladiateur FC) def. Mathieu Cournoyer (Force Extrême) via TKO (ground and pound) at 1:14 of Round 1.
– Looking far more fit than his opponent, Finn made quick work of Cournoyer, landing an early takedown, and driving for the finish. First delivering punches from side-control, Finn then moved to full mount, and rained down his fists for 15 seconds or so, eventually connecting enough to earn a stoppage from the referee.
135 – Kevin Legris (Mcgowan’s MMA) submits Maxime Lefevbre (Force Extrême) via arm-bar at 0:59 of Round 2.
– After winning the 1st round with two takedowns, Legris ended up with Lefevbre’s back in the 2nd round after sprawling his takedown attempt. As Legris positioned himself for an arm-bar, the fighters twisted, eventually ending bellow-down to the ground. Legris fully extended the submission, and got the tap.
150 – Marc-Antoine Bélanger (Gladiateur FC) submits Artis Maratula (Force Extrême) via armbar at 1:15 of Round 1.
– After exchanging some punches to open the round, Belanger and Maratula clinched up, and eventually hit the ground. Bélanger ended up on top, moved from side-control to full mount, dropped some punches, then rotated into an armbar, getting the tap, and the win.
170 – Samuel Rousseau (Force Extrême) def. Nicolas Boivin (Gladiateur FC) by unanimous judges’ decision.
– In the evening’s opening bout, Rousseau got the decision, taking the first two rounds, before losing the 3rd, where he was controlled on the ground by Boivin. Both fighters made their amateur debut in the fight.
By schools, here’s how the win-loss records for the night came out
Orion FC (3-0) or (2-0-1 after main event changed to a draw)
McGowan’s MMA (3-1)
Gladiateur FC/Team Chambodie (4-3) or (4-2-1 after main event changed to a draw)
Shiokaido FC (0-1)
*Team Extreme (0-2)
*Force Extrême (1-4-1)
* Team Extreme and Force Extrême are distinct teams, with no relation to one another. Team Extreme is from Montreal, Force Extrême from Sherbrooke.