Regina local continues octagonal success


author: nathan mccarville | sports writer

Fist in the air and smile on his face  / Courtesy of Cage Side Photography and Z Promotions

Semir Ali improves record with second win

Making the long trek from Regina to Lethbridge, Semir Ali has once again competed in Lethbridge’s octagon, in Fight Night 9. Fighting out of Ascendant Martial Arts based in Regina, SK, on the amateur side of the event’s card, Ali brought home another win from his second fight after he faced off against Jeremy Grieve. Going the full three rounds, Semir showed his skill in the cage by controlling the fight for much of the duration of the MMA fight, claiming the win by unanimous decision and improving his current amateur MMA record to 2-0.  

Going straight into the mind of Semir Ali and what was going through his head during the run up to his fight, I was able to ask a few questions to the amateur MMA competitor who is quickly making a name for himself in western Canada’s MMA world.  

In terms of how Semir prepared for his last fight, and how his preparation differed between his first fight featured in Rumble in the Cage 60’s stream, Semir said, “Well, I just know that I was able to train a lot harder for this fight because during my last fight I was worried about losing weight. I had to lose a lot more weight, as well as I had an injury that stopped me from training as much as I would have liked to, so just not having these things affecting me at this time, I felt a lot more physically refreshed and I didn’t have to worry about any external factors during this fight.” 

Ali said that going from training for months for a fight, to only having about a month’s notice before facing off against Grieve in the cage was to his advantage.  

“I felt like confidence was high from the last one, so it was good to not have a long time in between camps so I wouldn’t get out of shape and I could continuously grow and get better.” 

“Because the first fight was only 45 seconds, I knew that if I trained harder than I did in the last camp, I would be in better shape and my next performance would be that much better. It was a good thing to just go right back into it because I could just go off of my previous success. I could build upon my foundation and confidence that I got from my last performance, and it elevated my confidence mentally and physically going into this next performance.” 

Touching on how comfortable Semir Ali felt in the cage this time around, he gave a surprising answer. 

“I actually felt less confidence when I was actually in there, because this show was a lot bigger. There was a lot more people in the arena, better lighting, and the post-fight interviews made the event feel like there was a huge bump in professionalism.”  

H “Once I got in there, I was a bit more nervous than last time. But when I got my hands on [Grieve] and got a feel for his skills, I felt a lot more confident in my own skills. 

The differences between the fighter’s physiques were clear as soon as they did their walkouts just before the fight. Standing at a solid 5’6”, Ali was set to fight against Grieves, who stood at a wiry 6’2”. With such a divide between the fighter’s reach and height, Ali spoke on how he bridged the gap.  

“Well, I think that I had a perfect game plan. I knew my opponent would be a rangier opponent and he would have a striking advantage. My game plan was to get on the inside and not giving him much space. The commentators noticed that and they described me as ‘a dog on a bone’ with my pursuit. I wanted to wear him out and I knew that I would be the stronger between the two of us. I knew I could take him down and wear him out on the ground. When we were on the ground, I could hear him breathing heavier than me, so I knew I was doing my job.” 

When the time came to announce the winner of the fight, it was clear by Semir’s smile that he already knew that he won. Standing with excitement, the victorious Ali looked like one of the happiest people in the world.  

Asking Semir how it felt when the officials announced that he was the winner by unanimous decision, he said, “It’s kind of funny because when the fight was over and I went to my corner, I wasn’t sure whether I won or whether I lost. In the replay it was clear I won, but when you’re in there and things are happening left and right, you kind of lose your bearings on what’s going on because you’re just going so hard and you can’t look at what’s going on in its totality, just brief moments.”  

Looking back on his time in the ring, Ali added that, “You don’t realize what’s going on until you step back from it, but when you’re in there it’s really hard to do that. When my coach talked to me, he said, ‘You dominated and you have it in the bag’, and when he said that, I knew it was true.”  

Finally, the answer to the question. 

“When they raised my hand, it felt pretty good.” 

On something of a hot-streak with two wins under his belt in around four months, Semir discussed his future in MMA. 

“Yeah, this is my run. I’m committed to it, this isn’t something I’m just trying to do with one or two offs. I’m in it to win it. It’s definitely a dangerous game every time you step in that cage, but I believe in my skills and I hope everything just lines up perfectly, all of my training and all my preparations. I don’t want it all to go down in one big loss. So to answer your question, yes, I plan on competing more frequently, and this is only the beginning.” 

Coached by Austin Russell out of Ascendant Martial Arts, Semir gave some insight into the importance of having his coach cage-side during the fight.  

“He was kind of just keeping me aware of my opponents maneuvers because when I’m in there, there’s a lot of time where you’re focusing on yourself, and you’re not 100 per cent aware of what your opponent is doing.”  

Further on the impact that his coach had on Ali’s second amateur fight, Ali talked about what his coach did in the time between rounds.  

“Sometimes you’re in there and you go so hard you don’t see everything, so when you’re in that corner you just try to relax, and the coaches see the things that you don’t and they try to give you the most sure-fire ways to success. An example was, [Grieves] kept going for the guillotine on me, and my coach said, “If he does this, then do this.” And when he did try the guillotine again, I tried what my coach said, and it just worked out.” 

Semir Ali’s next fight is already scheduled for Mar. 8 in Fort McMurray, Alberta.  

“My last two fights I’ve shown off my grappling skills a lot, and this time I want to show off my striking skills. I want to get in there and get the KO.” 

On his continuation into the world of MMA, Semir said, “It’s so much different that seeing the fights on TV or online. Now, I look at fights on TV or online a lot differently, because I have my own experience and I know what it’s like to be in one.”  

“With that in mind, now I know how much harder I have to push, and every day when I’m in the gym I’m pushing toward that. I feel sorry for my next opponent because he gets to feel my wrath.” 

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