Houston boy gaining recognition in MMA world

October 4, 2011 9:29:44 AM PDT
One of the top Mixed Martial Arts organizations, the Ultimate Fighting Championship, is about to visit Houston. MMA is one of the fastest growing sports and a growing phenomenon with kids.

But is it too violent? We introduce you to a local nine-year-old who isn't afraid to take on people twice his size.

Sometimes big things come in small packages. Meet Ismael Ramirez. There's a reason he's called the 'Quiet Giant.'

"Because I'm quiet all the time," he said.

Ramirez may be little, but he fights big and when he hits the mat, watch out. In under a year, he's become a superstar at MMA, winning four local grappling competitions. What's more, he's not afraid to take on opponents twice his size and even more than twice age.

"I'll see him tap guys out, like one after another after another. He'll go against like two or three people and go right down the line and finish them all in the first round," MMA participant Tyler Carlisle said.

Mixed Martial Arts competition first exploded into the mainstream sports world a few years ago with the Ultimate Fighting Championship. Ever since, its popularity has ballooned and not just with adults. Kids even younger than Ramirez are taking part in record numbers in a sport that critics would argue is too violent and perhaps even dangerous.

"If the children are educated, it's a plus; but if they don't understand it then it can be a negative. But I don't see it being a negative," grandmaster Zulfi Ahmed said.

While it seems like all these kids want to do is beat the heck out of each other, Ahmed insists that is not the case at all. He says MMA is a legitimized, highly regulated sport, and for kids, the benefits are more than just physical.

"It is wonderful to build discipline, structure, build confidence, self esteem," Ahmed said.

Make no mistake, Ramirez wants to be an ultimate fighter when he grows up. His mom, despite some reservations, is OK with that.

"It's not just like throwing somebody who doesn't know what they are doing in there, so I believe if you're going to get in there, you have good mentality to do it," said his mother, Diana Ramirez.

And for Ismael Ramirez, his actions definitely speak louder than words.

This weekend, he will compete in a grappling competition during the UFC Fan Expo at the George R. Brown Convention Center in downtown Houston.

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