Surfers Paradise and UFC on FOX 5 Wrap Up

I write to you today from sunny, beautiful Australia. I’m in the Gold Coast (Surfers Paradise) for the finale for The Ultimate Fighter: The Smashes on Saturday. I flew down here straight from Seattle following UFC on FOX 5 and went straight to work, so I haven’t had much time to work on a proper blog post.

I’ll spare you a long-winded writeup and just get to the good stuff. UFC on FOX 5 featured a great night of fights, which capped a fantastic week that I was able to share with my wife in Seattle. I covered the fights alongside longtime Getty staff photographer Ezra Shaw. Here’s my favorite shot from the night.

SEATTLE, WA – DECEMBER 08: (R-L) Matt Brown knocks out Mike Swick with a punch during their welterweight bout at the UFC on FOX event on December 8, 2012 at Key Arena in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)

And here’s my full slideshow from the night.

UFC on FOX 5: Henderson v Diaz – Images by Joshua Hedges

Sunday morning, I left Seattle destined for Gold Coast, Australia. My itinerary saw me layover in San Francisco for about 5 hours, followed by a 12-hour flight to Auckland, New Zealand and another 3 hour layover there. I finally arrived in Gold Coast mid-morning Tuesday. Upon arriving at the hotel in Surfers Paradise, I was presented with some of the best working conditions a man could ask for.

SURFERS PARADISE, AUSTRALIA – DECEMBER 11: A general view of Surfers Paradise as seen from the Hilton Hotel on December 11, 2012 in Surfers Paradise, Australia. (Photo by Josh Hedges)

While I haven’t had much time to venture out and see any sights, just the fact that I can wake up and open my blinds every morning to this view makes the workday seem so much easier.

On Wednesday, I spent the day shooting portraits of various fighters on the card. Nothing too exciting, though it was nice to see all the guys again who I worked with at the beginning of filming for TUF: The Smashes. Everyone is in great shape and excited to put on a great fight.

SURFERS PARADISE, AUSTRALIA – DECEMBER 12: (L-R) Robert Whittaker and Norman Parke pose for a portraits ahead of their UFC on FX bouts on December 12, 2012 at the Hilton Hotel in Surfers Paradise, Australia. (Photos by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)

Thursday saw us drive out to Boonchu Muay Thai for the open workouts. The gym is owned by legendary Aussie fighter John Wayne Parr. It was a pleasant surprise when the man himself greeted us upon arrival and welcomed us into his gym. It’s a very small gym in a warehouse complex, but it worked out great. 8 fighters from the card worked out in some form or another. Some only shadow boxing, others a little more intense. Here is a slideshow of shots from the workouts.

UFC on FX 6 Open Workouts – Images by Joshua Hedges

And today saw the fighters all hit the scale for the official weigh in ahead of tomorrow’s fights. All fighters made weigh on their first try and there were no big surprises. TUF Smashes Coaches Ross Pearson and George Sotiropoulos capped off the weigh in with a heated staredown. Below is the slideshow of images from the weigh in.

UFC on FX 6 Weigh In – Images by Joshua Hedges

Nikon D800 thoughts

Hello everyone. It’s been a long while since I’ve posted an update here. Work has been busy and life in general has been even more busy. Last month, I spent three weeks shooting a number of assignments with the Nikon D800. I’ve been thinking of switching over to the “dark side” for quite some time, so I thought I’d give it a try and see whether or not it was going to be a viable option.

Due to the Olympics, I had to source the gear from a rental house that I use all the time – They have virtually everything a photographer could ever want, their customer service is top notch, and their prices are very competitive. Given the nature of my assignments, and the fact that it just wasn’t available for the time I needed, I was not able to get a D4 to try out. I ended up getting a D800 with the battery grip, the 14-24mm f/2.8G AF-S ED lens, the 85mm f/1.4G AF-S lens, and the 24-70mm f/2.8G AF-S ED.

The majority of my assignments were to be portraits, so that’s why I ultimately chose the D800 and those particular lenses. I attempted to rig the camera as an overhead remote at UFC 148, but due to an unknown person messing with the camera after it was rigged and secured, the images turned out a complete waste.

Next, it was off to Australia to begin filming for The Ultimate Fighter: The Smashes. I had three separate portrait shoots while I was down there to cover all the fighters, coaches, and the new Octagon Girls. I also spent a few hours following Junior dos Santos around at Wildlife Sydney. I also used the camera to shoot some beauty shots of the empty gym and house before filming officially began on the show, as well as some behind-the-scenes stuff on set during filming.

All the shoots turned out great, and I’m more than happy with the results. Being a Canon guy for going on 20 years, it did take a little getting used to for me to learn the different button positions, functions, and operations of the Nikon system. Though, I really expected to have more trouble with it than I did. It really felt comfortable in my hands, and I learned quickly to operate everything I needed to use efficiently.

The D800 is a great camera, and I believe it is leaps and bounds ahead of it’s Canon competitor – the 5D Mark III. Keep in mind though, I’m evaluating this purely as a still camera. I have never once used the video function on any of my DSLR cameras, as I have no need for that. So don’t send me hate mail about how deluded I am because the 5D video is so great. That may be the case, but it means absolutely nothing to me for what I need this camera for.

The D800, in my opinion, has a far superior autofocus system. Couple that with the ridiculously huge image size (36 MP), and I consider this to be a winner and well worth the price tag. Furthermore, comparing it side-by-side to the 5D Mark III, the D800 just looks and feels much more like a professional camera.

I would love to post a lot of examples of what I shot with it, but due to the delayed airing of the TV show, I cannot post anything from it. You can find some samples from a shoot with the coaches and the Junior dos Santos shoot in the previous posting here.

Greetings from Australia

Hello everyone. Sorry for the lack of updates since I’ve been down in Australia. I’ve been working pretty much non-stop, as usual. The weather down here is beautiful. It’s winter here, so the highs have been in the 70’s and lows in the 50’s. We’ve been blessed with clear skies most days, especially the days when we’ve been scheduled to shoot outdoors.

As you may or may not know, I’ve been demoing the Nikon D800 and a handful of lenses on this trip. I’ll try to write a more thorough review at some point in the near future, but for now, let me just say that I’m very happy with the results and absolutely love the D800 and the Nikon system in general. As a Canon user for pretty much my entire life, it’s very refreshing to change things up. The 36 megapixel sensor is simply amazing, and I think I’ve found a new favorite lens in the 14-24mm.

I can’t share a lot of what I’ve been shooting as we’re filming The Ultimate Fighter: The Smashes. The show will begin airing in Australia in September. At that point, most of what I’m shooting will see the light of day. For now, I’d like to share a few images of some of the other stuff outside of the secret stuff for the show. The first couple images are from a media call we did with coaches Ross Pearson and George Sotiropoulos, and the last few were a trip we took to Wildlife Sydney with Junior dos Santos. All of these were shot with the previously mentioned 14-24mm lens, and a Nikon SB-910 speedlight.

UFC on FX 2: Kampmann v Alves

Greetings again from beautiful Sydney, Australia. I apologize for the tardiness of my post, but what can I say, we’ve been enjoying our stay here now that the sun has finally shined for three days straight. If you follow me on Facebook (and “why not?” if you don’t), then you’ve probably seen my collection of tourist snaps from the last few days. It has truly been amazing. Yesterday we did the Bridge Climb, scaling up to the summit of the Sydney Harbour Bridge and back down. I was slightly terrified starting out, but 5 minutes into the climb, it was one of the greatest experiences of my life. I recommend anyone who has the chance to ever do it, please do. You will not be disappointed.

Ok, enough of that. You’re probably here to read about fights and look at bloody pictures. As I said before, the third UFC event in the great nation of Australia took place last Saturday at the Allphones Arena at Sydney Olympic Park in what was then a very rainy Sydney, New South Wales, Australia. The main event featured welterweight contenders Thiago Alves and Martin Kampmann battling to climb the ladder closer to a title shot in one of the more stacked divisions in the UFC. Thiago Alves looked well on his way to winning the fight by unanimous decision when in the third round, he shot in for a takedown and left his neck out for Kampmann to sink in a guillotine choke and force the tapout. Kampmann earned the submission of the night bonus for his come-from-behind performance.

The main card also featured a tournament to crown an inaugural flyweight champion in the newly established 125-pound division. Joseph Benavidez made quick work of world #2 Yasuhiro Urushitani with a TKO just seconds into the second round. But, the real excitement and controversy occurred in the other semifinal between Demetrious “Mighty Mouse” Johnson and “Uncle Creepy” Ian McCall. McCall has long been considered the top dog at 125 pounds, but “Mighty Mouse” still seemed to be the favorite going into the fight after coming down in weight after a highly successful run at 135 pounds. All three rounds of the bout were action packed. The first two were close and could have gone either way. The third round saw McCall take control and get the fight to the ground. He closed out the fight with a series of smashing punches from Johnson’s back. When the score cards were read, awarding Johnson a majority decision victory, the crowd let out a raucous boo in unison. And they were right. It was later revealed that the score cards were tallied wrong and the scored should have been a majority draw, and thus there should have been a fourth and deciding round. A furious Dana White made right, awarding both fighters a win bonus and awarding them both the fight of the night bonus. The rematch to decide the second finalist for the flyweight title will take place at a future show, depending on the health of both fighters coming out of this bout. I, for one, won’t at all be upset about seeing these two go at it again.

Below is a gallery of shots from throughout the night. As always, check and Getty Images for the full take.

UFC on FX 2: Alves v Kampmann – Images by Joshua Hedges

UFC on FX 2 open workout gallery

Ian McCall - UFC on FX 2 Open WorkoutsHello again from not-so-sunny Sydney, Australia. Today was a complete wash-out, so I never made it out of the hotel. Here’s hoping for better weather the rest of my stay here. My wife Jody and her sister will be arriving in the morning, and I’m hopeful their first trip to Australia will be filled with all the great sights I’ve had the pleasure of seeing. Luckily, the bad weather allowed me to focus on getting some work done. I shot a number of portraits of with some of the guys on the card and prepped the final headshots for the production team.

As I mentioned previously, we hit the ground running yesterday and shot the open workouts before even checking into the hotel. The workouts were held in a dimly lit corner of the casino back behind the 24/7 sports bar. A selection of the top six fighters on the card and a couple of the native Aussie’s worked out for the media contingent.

Below is a selection of shots from the morning’s workout sessions. As always, check out the full take on and Getty Images.

UFC on FX 2 Open Workouts – Images by Joshua Hedges