Being the best in his weight class wasn’t good enough for 12 year-old Alexander Ramirez, so he went on to be the best in the world.

The San Gorgonio Middle School student represented the United States in the first-ever International Mixed Martial Arts Foundation World Championships.

World Championships for the IMMAF were Aug. 3 and 4 in Rome.

The tournament was sponsored by the Ultimate Fighting Championship.

“It is like the unofficial Olympics for the MMA,” says Alexander’s father, Sandro Ramirez. “There’s a lot of eyes watching these kids.”

The young Alexander took the first-ever gold medal awarded for his weight class in this competition.

He began his training with jiu jitsu-style martial arts five years ago and transitioned to MMA a couple of years ago.

Alexander, who also wrestles with the Yucaipa Wrestling Club, trains at Pinnacle Mixed Martial Arts in Redlands.

He wrestles in the 85-pound weight class.

As a fighter in the IMMAF, Alexander was the only one in his weight class.

So, in order to compete in the international tournament, Alexander had to move up into the 40 kg (88 lbs.) weight class.

But that didn’t stop the little fighter who has earned the nickname “Little Tank.”

Leading up to the tournament in Rome, Alexander competed in seven fights.

The last three took place in June during a national tournament that served as the qualifier for the national team that went to the IMMAF.

During the Olympic format tournament, the young man competed against four other youth from the heavier weight class.

Three of his four contests were decided by submitting his opponents who all tapped out.

His first opponent represented Ireland and his second represented England.

Both submitted after Ramirez put them in an arm-bar type hold called a “kimura.”

The third opponent Ramirez faced was from Ukraine who submitted after a rear naked choke was placed on him.

The final match pitted Ramirez against another youth from Bulgaria.

When the bell sounded, Alexander attacked the Bulgarian, dominating the bout and winning by unanimous decision.

That gave Alexander the top spot earning him the first-ever gold medal in the 12-13 year old 40 kg IMMAF World Cadet MMA Championship.

The American team took first place overall in the medal count for the tournament with 16 gold, nine silver and three bronze for a combined 28 medals.

Russia took second overall with only 17 medals combined.

But fighting is not the only thing the young Alexander wants the do in life.

He plans on going to college and become a structural engineer.

“He wants an education first,” says his proud and beaming father.

Alexander’s next title bout will be Sept. 21 in Ontario and will be fighting for the United States Fight League youth title.

Staff Writer Marc Hargett may be reached at mhargett@recordgazette.net .

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