The World Traveler

I apologize for neglecting my blog so badly the past few months. I promise to do a better job and keep everyone better informed of my whereabouts around the globe in 2013 and beyond.

As you may or may not know, I’m smack in the middle of a 15 day road trip. I spent the first 9 days traveling to and working in Sao Paulo, Brazil. This was the first time I had ventured outside of the airport in Sao Paulo, and I was pleasantly surprised. The weather was the first surprise. We were met with rain as soon as we walked out of the terminal to get our car, and for the most part, the rain didn’t let up for the rest of the trip.

The one thing I was told about Sao Paulo before I arrived was that the traffic is even worse than Rio de Janeiro. I don’t know if I just have good luck or people were lying to me, but I found that statement to be completely false. It took only 25 minutes to get to the hotel from the airport, and all our journeys between the hotel and the various shooting locations were much quicker than planned, as well.

The skies parted for a few hours last Wednesday for the UFC open workouts at Parque Anhangaba├║ near the city’s center. The usual cast of characters, including the main event and co-main event contestants, and a handful of local talent, put on a show for the crowd that gathered. The location was pretty neat, and the weather was much more accommodating than I have been used to during outdoor workouts in the past.

SAO PAULO, BRAZIL - JANUARY 16:  A general view of the venue as fighters participate in an open workout session for media and fans on January 16, 2013 at Parque Anhangaba├║ in Sao Paulo, Brazil. (Photo by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)
SAO PAULO, BRAZIL – JANUARY 16: A general view of the venue as fighters participate in an open workout session for media and fans on January 16, 2013 at Parque Anhangaba├║ in Sao Paulo, Brazil. (Photo by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)

After the usual pre-fight routine of portraits, press conference, and weigh-in, it was finally fight day. I headed over to Ibirapuera Gymnasium way early to get a lay of the land and scout locations for remotes. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find a spot I felt was safe to remove a remote unattended throughout the night, so I canceled that idea.

SAO PAULO, BRAZIL - JANUARY 19:  A general view of the Octagon before the UFC on FX event on January 19, 2013 at Ibirapuera Gymnasium in Sao Paulo, Brazil. (Photo by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)
SAO PAULO, BRAZIL – JANUARY 19: A general view of the Octagon before the UFC on FX event on January 19, 2013 at Ibirapuera Gymnasium in Sao Paulo, Brazil. (Photo by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)

The first preliminary fight started about 8:45 pm local time. With eleven fights on the card, it was shaping up to be a long night. The arena was more than half full for the first fight and the fans erupted when their countryman, Francisco Trinaldo, finished C.J. Keith with an arm triangle choke. For the most part, the crowd was pretty calm after that, until Sao Paulo and TUF Brasil 1 finalist Daniel Sarafian entered for his bout against C.B. Dolloway. Unfortunately for the crowd, Sarafian came out on the losing end of the decision and the fans showed their displeasure by booing Dolloway so loudly that I couldn’t hear a word he said in his post-fight interview.

Finally, at nearly 1:30 am, it was time for the main event. Michael Bisping walked out first to a strong chorus of boos. His opponent, Vitor Belfort was met with a nice reaction from the crowd, though nothing like Sarafian experienced. Vitor looked fired up and ready to destroy.

SAO PAULO, BRAZIL - JANUARY 19:  Vitor Belfort enters the arena before his middleweight fight against Michael Bisping at the UFC on FX event on January 19, 2013 at Ibirapuera Gymnasium in Sao Paulo, Brazil. (Photo by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)
SAO PAULO, BRAZIL – JANUARY 19: Vitor Belfort enters the arena before his middleweight fight against Michael Bisping at the UFC on FX event on January 19, 2013 at Ibirapuera Gymnasium in Sao Paulo, Brazil. (Photo by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)

And destroy he did. Belfort controlled the action in round one, landing a number of significant kicks and punches. Then, in round two, he unleashed a left high kick to the side of Bisping’s head, putting him down on the canvas. Belfort followed up with a series of hammer-fists forcing referee Dan Miragliotta to stop the fight. The crowd went nuts, as did Vitor.

SAO PAULO, BRAZIL - JANUARY 19:  Vitor Belfort reacts after defeating Michael Bisping in their middleweight fight at the UFC on FX event on January 19, 2013 at Ibirapuera Gymnasium in Sao Paulo, Brazil. (Photo by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)
SAO PAULO, BRAZIL – JANUARY 19: Vitor Belfort reacts after defeating Michael Bisping in their middleweight fight at the UFC on FX event on January 19, 2013 at Ibirapuera Gymnasium in Sao Paulo, Brazil. (Photo by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)

After completing my edit and packing everything up, I was en route back to the hotel by 3:30 am. I had some more work to do once I got back, so I didn’t finally make it to bed until sometime after 6:00. My alarm rang bright and early at 9:00 am for my next assignment. I headed back to the arena to cover the elimination fights for TUF Brasil 2. And that’s about all I can say about that for now.

The next two days were also spent covering various aspects of the upcoming reality show, until I was finally in a car headed back to the airport about 5:30 pm Tuesday evening. I flew straight to Chicago for this week’s UFC on FOX card; landing at about 6:00 am local time Wednesday morning after an 11-hour flight. I had just enough time to get to the hotel and take a shower before I was back in a car headed to the UFC Gym for the open workouts.

CHICAGO, IL - JANUARY 23:  A general view of the workout area before the UFC on FOX open workouts on January 23, 2013 at UFC Gym in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL – JANUARY 23: A general view of the workout area before the UFC on FOX open workouts on January 23, 2013 at UFC Gym in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)

This particular UFC Gym location had just been transformed from it’s previous moniker, LA Boxing. I mean that literally as apparently they were still under construction the day before. Everything had that “brand new, wrapped in plastic” smell. I did a quick once-over and decided on locations to place a few speedlites. The overhead florescent lights did not provide the look I was going for, so of course I came prepared with four of my Canon 600EX-RT units. And, for the next four hours, I clicked away as various fighters cycled through the gym to workout for media. The whole day was really a blur, but I actually came away with several shots I was happy with.

CHICAGO, IL - JANUARY 23:  Quinton "Rampage" Jackson conducts an open workout session for media on January 23, 2013 at UFC Gym in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL – JANUARY 23: Quinton “Rampage” Jackson conducts an open workout session for media on January 23, 2013 at UFC Gym in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)

After the workouts, I headed back to the hotel to work on my edit and finally had a chance to relax and take a look out the window. It had just started snowing. It was then that I realized less than 36 hours before, I was wearing shorts and flip-flops. Now I was freezing in my hotel room and couldn’t get the heater hot enough.

The usual press conference followed on Thursday, and today saw us head back to the Chicago Theatre once again for another weigh-in. I love it when we do weigh-ins inside these old historic theatres. They create such a cool atmosphere and make for really nice wide photos.

CHICAGO, IL - JANUARY 25:  A general view of the theatre as Anthony Pettis and Donald "Cowboy" Cerrone face off during the UFC on FOX weigh-in on January 25, 2013 at the Chicago Theatre in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL – JANUARY 25: A general view of the theatre as Anthony Pettis and Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone face off during the UFC on FOX weigh-in on January 25, 2013 at the Chicago Theatre in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)

All fighters made weight and nothing much of interest happened, other than a moment of uncertainty before Quinton “Rampage” Jackson stepped on the scale for his final UFC weigh-in. He appeared to apologize to the commission official and UFC coordinator Burt Watson, and you could see Watson was visibly upset as he stepped back while Rampage hopped on the scale. But then the weight was announced as 204 pounds. I’m not sure what exactly was said, but I was expecting him to be well overweight after seeing that unfold. After making weight, Rampage proceeded to get in the face of his opponent, Glover Teixeira, and give him a tongue-lashing as they faced off.

CHICAGO, IL - JANUARY 25:  (L-R) Opponents Quinton "Rampage" Jackson and Glover Teixeira face off during the UFC on FOX weigh-in on January 25, 2013 at the Chicago Theatre in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL – JANUARY 25: (L-R) Opponents Quinton “Rampage” Jackson and Glover Teixeira face off during the UFC on FOX weigh-in on January 25, 2013 at the Chicago Theatre in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)

Tomorrow is yet another early call to head over for a long day at the arena. I’ll do my best to get some shots up before I head back home Sunday morning. But, until then, I leave you with a few slideshows from the last couple weeks.


UFC on FX 7 Open Workouts – Images by Joshua Hedges


UFC on FX 7 Weigh-in – Images by Joshua Hedges


UFC on FX 7: Belfort v Bisping – Images by Joshua Hedges


UFC on FOX 6 Open Workouts – Images by Joshua Hedges


UFC on FOX 6 Weigh-in – Images by Joshua Hedges

UFC 144: Edgar vs Henderson gallery

Hello from Sydney, Australia. After an incredible week in Japan, I’ve finally made it down to the “land down under” to cover UFC on FX: Kampmann vs Alves for UFC and Getty Images. I had intended every intention of writing this blog post along my journey, but that just did not happen. I feel like so much has happened in the last 36 hours, I’m still trying to digest it all. So, I’ll get right into it.

UFC returned to Japan for the first time in 12 years with UFC 144 as Frankie Edgar put his UFC Lightweight Championship on the line in the main event against number-one contender Benson Henderson. But before the main event, there were eleven other great fights to keep the crowd entertained.

The bus to Saitama departed the hotel at 6:00 am on fight day. Due to the time difference, the show had to take place in the morning in Japan to air during the normal timeslot in North America. After about 45 minutes on the bus, we arrived at the Saitama Super Arena. And let me just say, they hit the nail on the head with the name of this place as it truly is an awesome arena. The configuration for UFC 144 must have allowed for somewhere around 22,000 fans in attendance. Doors opened at 9:00 am and the venue started filling up quickly.

The first bout went off right around 9:30 am with Issei Tamura knocking out Tiequan Zhang in brutal fashion to get the show off to a fantastic start. Many people probably thought as I did that we had just witnessed the Knockout of the Night. Well, as fate would have it, we were wrong. But that’s a good thing for the UFC, fans, and the fighters.

Slowly but surely, the fights went down one by one. The arena was mostly full before the live pay-per-view broadcast began at noon. For the most part, the crowd wasn’t much different than some other crowds we’ve seen around the world. I expected it to be much more quiet, but there really weren’t too many quiet moments. There were even rounds of boo’s during slow moments of a couple fights.

Norifumi “Kid” Yamamoto had a large contingent of supporters in attendance for his bout against England’s Vaughn Lee. “Kid” looked to be on his way to victory, blasting Lee with punches in the standup exchanges. But, the Brit found a way to get it to the ground, and rather quickly started working submissions. He eventually secured an arm bar, forcing Yamamoto to tap in the first round. The victory gave Lee the Submission of the Night award, being the lone submission of the event.

Anthony “Showtime” Pettis kicked off the live pay-per-view telecast with a thrilling first round knockout of Joe Lauzon. Pettis landed a perfectly timed kick to the jaw of Lauzon, putting him down in an instant. After following up with two flush punches on the ground, the referee stopped the fight and the Knockout of the Night crown was sealed.

Following that up was going to be a tough task, but the rest of the fights did not disappoint. Mark Hunt TKO’d Cheick Kongo in the first round; Tim Boetsch came back from the brink of defeat to TKO Yushin Okami with a brutal series of uppercuts in the third round; Jake Shields scored an impressive unanimous decision victory over Yoshihiro Akiyama; and in the co-main event, Ryan Bader easily out-pointed Quinton “Rampage” Jackson. The Japanese fans were treated to a classic Rampage slam during the bout, but that was really the only bright spot for Jackson throughout the three rounds.

In the main event, Benson Henderson showed up with a mission to take home the title and was not letting anyone get in his way. After dropping the first round on all three judges cards, Henderson turned it around in the second, landing a solid up-kick to the face of Edgar which stunned the champ. After that, Henderson took over and peppered the champ with kicks, knees, and punches throughout the five rounds. At the end of it all, Henderson captured the title by a unanimous judges’ decision. Both Henderson and Edgar were rightfully awarded the Fight of the Night honor.

The fights in Saitama ended around 4:00 pm and I was fortunate to get on one of the first transports back to the hotel. Having transmitted the bulk of the images throughout the fights, I only had about 30-40 left to edit and caption on the long bus ride back to the hotel. It worked out great and I was able to get everything ready so all I had to do was plug in and hit “send” when I got to my room. I wandered across the street to 7-11 to use up some of my Yen and grab lunch while the upload finished. Then, it was back to get started packing for the long journey the next morning.

I was scheduled to leave the hotel at 7:00 am the next morning for a long day of travel down to Sydney. Due to some heavy sleepers, we didn’t end up leaving the hotel until nearly 7:30. Anyone who has ever traveled with me knows that is one of my biggest pet peeves. I hate being late, especially for an international flight where there are heavier restrictions on check-in times and longer lines to wait in at the check-in desk and security. As it turned out though, we still had plenty of time. It was about an hour en route to the airport. I was able to go through the business class check-in line at the Singapore Airlines counter, thanks to my United 1K status, so check-in was a breeze. The very helpful agent also waived my baggage fees, saving me close to $1,000. Ten minutes later, I was through security and hanging out in the United lounge.

The first leg of my journey saw me fly from Tokyo’s Narita Airport seven hours down to Singapore’s Changi Airport. I had been looking forward to this trip ever since I watched Anthony Bourdain’s The Layover where he visited Singapore. The airport features a free movie theater, more shopping than you’ll find at most American malls, tons of great food, a butterfly garden, and a rooftop pool. I didn’t have a chance to make it to the pool, nor did I have the time to catch a movie. But, I did pick up some souvenirs at the Hard Rock Cafe, the 34th different one that I’ve visited, and I spent a few minutes watching the butterflies.

From Singapore, it was an additional eight hours en route to Sydney. And, for the first time in my life, I would be flying on an Airbus A380 super jumbo jet. Of course, as soon as I found this out, I requested an upper deck seat. Though, in hindsight it didn’t make any difference and probably only delayed me more from deplaning quickly upon arriving in Sydney. Singapore Air, though, is one of the nicer airlines I have had the pleasure of flying. It was a very pleasant trip, albeit very long and draining. Next time, I will definitely make more of an effort to upgrade to business class.

I knew I was in for a long day once I arrived in Sydney, but had hoped to make the best of it. The flight landed at about 7:30 am, just three hours before the open workouts were slated to start. By the time I made it through customs and boarded the bus to the hotel with the rest of the group, we had less than an hour until the workouts. So, I felt very stressed from the start. To add to the stress, there were no hotel rooms available, so I was unable to freshen up at all before going to shoot the open workouts. I apologize for anyone that was near me at the workouts if I had an odd odor. Once I started shooting the workouts, things all sort of just worked themselves out and the stress slowly alleviated. But, that’s another blog post perhaps for tomorrow.

For now, here’s a gallery of images I shot during UFC 144 in Saitama, Japan. As always, check out the full take at UFC.com and Getty Images.


UFC 144: Edgar vs Henderson – Images by Joshua Hedges