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April 24, 2023



 Portland, Maine (April 19, 2023)

Alex “The Alley Cat” Morris is fueled by aspirations no different than any amateur mixed martial artist aiming to grow his craft and his reputation with New England Fights.

Somewhere in the back of his mind, the flyweight from Salem, New Hampshire, trains most every day at Nostos MMA in nearby Somersworth with the dream of making it to Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) or Bellator MMA pushing him through the perspiration, blood and hours away from his family and friends.

If the 27-year-old never becomes one of the precious few to parlay his talent and opportunity into a sniff of that rare air, Morris still would love to be almost front and center with the eyes of the world focused on an adjacent cage.

One of Morris’ other passions is photography. Long before his debut last summer with a 64-second stoppage of Quinn Poirier, Morris made his inroads to the sport by taking MMA dressing room and action photos on his own time, as described to host Steve Domenico in a recent episode of “The Room Podcast.”

“I would definitely be interested in doing that,” Morris said. “Devin (Powell, Nostos owner) has mentioned to me that he wants someone to be their media person. I’ve just gotta invest in a video camera. That might be coming in my near future. It would just be for our team, I think. But if I ever got the opportunity to work with Bellator or UFC doing some photography or media work, that would be awesome.”

For now, Morris will labor on the other side of the lens against Qasim Abdulla in a bout as part of “NEF 52: Zero Hour” on Saturday, May 13 at Aura in Portland, Maine. Bell time for the card is 7 p.m.

Both fighters are 1-0, with Morris’ victory taking place up the street in Portland at the Thompson’s Point outdoor venue as part of “NEF 48: Heatwave” this past July. Abdulla debuted with a unanimous decision over Julian Menjivar in February at “NEF 51: Banger in Bangor.”

With the customary nerves out of the way, Morris expects himself to be more businesslike in the quest to go 2-0.

“I think he’s gonna come out swinging for my head just like he showed,” Morris said. “Maybe he’s gonna be a little more composed for this fight, but I think he kinda showed how he’s gonna fight, and I showed how I’m gonna fight. So I think somebody’s gonna get knocked out hopefully pretty quick. I think it’s gonna be me getting a knockout over him.

“I think I have some pretty good hands. He kind of overthrew his punches. He’s definitely a tough kid. I think I’m gonna show that I’m better than him with striking. I think I’m gonna show that I’m better than him on the ground. So he’d better be ready to bring it, to be honest.”

As was the case for the triumphant rookie effort, Morris will be on a card heavily flavored with fighters from his own gym.

On a whirlwind night in the open-air environment, his debut was in a parade of early KO and TKO finishes on the card.

“It was awesome. Obviously it was my first fight, so it was different being outside. It was a really cool event to be outside for. It was a beautiful night,” Morris said. “It was cool also that I was able to fight alongside Cody Lightfoot. He was on the card of the first live event I ever went to go see 12 years ago. I couldn’t have asked for a better outcome obviously. I put away my opponent in one minute and nothing happened to me, so it was a really good night.”

Morris dropped Poirier with his initial haymaker and earned the victory on the canvas with a subsequent barrage of strikes.

“I didn’t think I was gonna drop him off that first punch. I honestly thought he was out,” Morris recalled. “Then I saw he was kind of like still moving, so I hopped on top, did what I had to do. He was pretty strong trying to get up, but I was able to control him and put him away pretty quick.”

Some fighters describe their first venture into the cage as so all-consuming that they don’t remember much of it, even if they aren’t the one who momentarily loses consciousness.

That wasn’t Morris’ experience. He can still recite chapter and verse from the dawn of his career, nine months later.

“I remember Devin saying, ‘He’s throwing wild,’ ‘cause we were planning on him kinda like throwing from the outside with big, looping shots, and my plan was to come straight in,” Morris said. “I think I have some decent boxing. The plan was to hit him with some straights, hurt him, and I think that’s how it played out. I could hear the crowd. I definitely didn’t black out. It was a fun experience, and I was able to remember it.”

Being relatively close to home, which again will be the case for his sophomore showcase, gave Morris a chance to get more up-close-and-personal with his cheering section than he expected before the bout.

“It went a lot faster than I anticipated. It was all kind of a rush. It was like, ‘OK, you’re up. You’re on deck. You’re fighting in like two minutes. You’ve gotta get ready.’ They put all the gunk on beside the crowd, and my family was actually right in front of me while I was getting ready,” Morris said. “My aunt looked at me and she was like, ‘Aw, he looks scary right now.” Her boyfriend was like, ‘Yeah, he’s getting ready to go into a fistfight.’ It was really fun. My whole family was there. All my training partners were there. My main training partner, Key (Baltazar), he had a good fight that night.”

Nathaniel Grimard, who was instrumental in leading Morris to start training at Nostos, fought as well and will be in action on May 13.

“He was also one of the guys who was really pushing me in the gym, making sure I was ready. I appreciate that from all of them. They’re all dogs in there,” Morris said. “It’s a really tough gym, really tough room. We all have the same goal of getting to that next level, so we all push each other. We all hold each other accountable. It’s a good spot.”

Morris spent a year at Nostos before striking up the conversation in which Powell deemed him ready for debut against a live opponent.

While many others who gravitate to the sport have an extensive combat sports background, that wasn’t the case with Morris.

“I did wrestling in high school. I didn’t ever do it before. I honestly wasn’t the greatest wrestler in high school. I only had a couple of varsity matches. I didn’t even start my senior year. I got beat by a kid that ended up being a two-time state champ, and he’s the coach at Salem High School now,” Morris said. “Probably not a bad kid to lose to. I was a little upset about it at the time obviously. He did put it to me and kind of made me eat my teenage ego of thinking that I was invincible and that anybody was just weaker than me.

“My dad bought me a boxing bag back when I was about nine years old. He was in the Army. But other than that, I had no training in martial arts or anything until the last two years.”

Part of being such a raw talent is figuring out where he fits into the MMA equation.

The flyweight limit of 125 pounds may be a stretch in the long term for Morris and his 5-foot-8 frame.

“Last fight was a little bit different. I was about 150 when I was trying to cut down to 130,” Morris said. “Right now, I’m sitting at 135 after practice, so it should be a decent cut but a doable cut. I feel like my body is fine to do it. I don’t know for how long, because I want to put on some muscle. But I can do it for at least my amateur career.”

It's all coming from a different angle than the one Morris witnessed through his view finder during his younger adult years.

360 DJs & Photo Booth Rental of Beverly, Massachusetts, remains one of Morris’ side hustles.

“We do weddings, corporate events, stuff like that. I was (taking MMA photos) by myself with my own camera and would upload the photos after the event,” Morris said. “I asked if I could do it with their camera. It gets me into the event, and usually it gets me a media pass. I didn’t think of it like that before, but my grandpa always said I have an artistic eye. He said, ‘I don’t see a tree and see it as a beautiful photo, but you see it from a different angle.’”

If Morris takes any pictures at Aura, he hopes they will be victory selfies or candid backstage photos with some of his closest friends.

“They’re all gonna be ready to bring it,” Morris said of his team. “Like I said before, it’s a great room in there. We have people that push each other all the time, so we’re always ready to go, We’ve got people that are still waiting to make their debut too that are really, really good.

“You can expect me to put on a great show,” he added. “I’m gonna come out more composed this time, not trying to look for that knockout so badly. I’m gonna show that I can strike, stay composed and kinda just pick this kid apart. It’s gonna be fun. I don’t want to give away my game plan too much.”

“NEF 52: Zero Hour” will take place Saturday, May 13, 2023, at Aura in Portland, Maine. Doors will open at 6 p.m., with the first fight at 7 p.m. Tickets are on sale now at