I’m current sitting in the SAS Business Lounge at Stockholm’s Arlanda International Airport getting ready to board my plane back to the United States. I’ve slept a total of two hours over the last 2 days, so hopefully I’ll be able to relax and sleep once I get on the plane.
Last night was a great night of fights. The arena was amazing. The crowd was awesome. The fighters all brought it and put on great performances. I was very impressed with the level of talent exhibited by the Scandinavian fighters on the card, who collectively amassed a 3-3 record on the night.
I don’t think anyone is surprised that Brad Pickett and Damacio Page put in a “Fight of the Night” performance. They both have a history of doing so. Pickett looked greatly improved from his last performance against Renan Barao. Page looked a bit jittery, perhaps from the long layoff, but still did a solid job.
In the main event, Stockholm’s Alexander Gustafsson thoroughly dominated Thiago Silva over the course of three rounds to score a unanimous decision. It was Gustafsson’s first career decision. It looked like the fight would be over before it even started when Gustafsson landed a barrage early in the first round that nearly put Silva out. However, the Brazilian hung on and battled back. There were moments when Silva landed some good shots, but he never had Gustafsson in any danger. The partisan crowd warmed up to Silva by the end and cheered on both men in the closing moments of the third round.
Below is a gallery of images from my take last night. You can also check out the full take on UFC.com and Getty Images. I will try to add more images to the gallery when I get back to the states.
Another great night of fights as UFC 138 took place tonight in Birmingham, England. In the main event, Mark Munoz (right) defeated Chris Leben by TKO when Leben couldn’t answer the bell after round two. Apparently, Leben told the doctor he could not see out of his eye. The doctor warned him that if he could not see, the bout could not continue. Leben repeated that he could not see. Up to that point, even after suffering the cut, Leben was doing very well. I’m not sure how the judges scored it through two rounds, but it was a tightly contested bout.
In the co-main event, Brazil’s Renan Barao ran his winning streak to 17 straight with a submission victory over England’s Brad Pickett. This fight won fight of the night honors, even though it ended inside of a round. Normally I wouldn’t agree with such a short fight being awarded the FOTN bonus, but this one totally deserved it. Both guys came out swinging from the get-go and never stopped. Barao landed a huge knee that spelled the beginning of the end for Pickett and led to some punches on the ground, followed by a sick rear naked choke.
Opening up the night was Terry Etim’s triumphant return to the Octagon after injury. Etim defeated Hawaii’s Edward Faaloloto by guillotine choke in just 17 seconds. Then, Etim proceeded to jump up on the cage right in front of me and celebrate for a good 2 minutes. Etim earned the Submission of the Night bonus for his handy work, and wins my award for Celebration of the Night. Hell, how about Celebration of the Year? Just look at the pictures!
Here is a selection of my favorite shots of the night. The full take can be found on Getty Images.
Today, all the fighters from the UFC 138 card weighed in at the Community Hall in Birmingham, England. All fighters, save Thiago Alves, made weight on their first try. Alves initially came in a pound over the 171 pound welterweight limit, but later made weight to make his bout against Sweden’s Papy Abedi official. After his initial weigh-in Alves and Abedi had a heated face-off, needing to eventually be separated by UFC President Dana White. Not to be upstaged, middleweight main event fighters Chris Leben and Mark Munoz also got up close and personal during their face off.
Yesterday was the final press conference for the UFC 138 card here in Birmingham, England. Only four fighters were represented on the dais, and the conference was rather quick. Middleweight opponents Mark Munoz and Chris Leben paid a lot of respect towards each other, as did bantamweight opponents Brad Pickett and Renan Barao.
As I mentioned in my previous post, I’m across the pond in Birmingham, UK for UFC 138: Leben vs. Munoz. After a lengthy day/night of travel, I arrived at my hotel around 9am Wednesday morning. I had just enough time for a quick shower and breakfast before heading downstairs to photograph the fighters during the open workouts. The open workouts for UK based events are typically very low key. This one was no different. A group of 15-20 people was on hand to watch as the main event fighters – Mark Munoz and Chris Leben – as well as a handful of UK based fighters worked out. Most of the fighters didn’t do anything intense, with the exception of Jason “Shotgun” Young and Brad “One Punch” Pickett. As you can see from the gallery below, these two were the highlights of the afternoon.
Lighting was minimal in the small meeting room, so I setup two Canon 580ex speedlites at opposite ends of the mat. I like doing this when I can, because it gives me the ability to control the lighting just by walking around to different spots around the fighter. Want really harsh shadows, just move around so that the light is directly to the side. Want it more flat, just stand so that the light shoots the same direction your camera is pointed.