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 Anhangabaú 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 Anhangabaú 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 Anhangabaú 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

Back in the states

I had hoped to have more time to write while in Rio, but unfortunately I was up late working every night. Between the slow internet and horrible traffic, everything in Rio takes much longer. So, I’ll spare you all the boring details of the presser and weigh in, and move on straight to fight day.

I set out on my journey back to HSBC Arena in the early afternoon on Saturday. We weren’t three blocks from the hotel when our crazy van driver slammed into another car from behind. Of course, it was all the other driver’s fault. He had stopped at a crosswalk to allow a pedestrian to cross. But, in Rio, things like crosswalks, lane dividers, stop signs, and red lights are merely suggestions that are often ignored. When our driver finally let up on the horn and began driving again, we passed the car and realized who it was – former Strikeforce middleweight champ Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza. He had a few choice words and fingers for our driver as we sped past. Fortunately after that, we made it to the arena without further incident.

Because of the unpredictable traffic situation, I arrived at the arena far earlier than I needed to be there, nearly four hours before the first fight. It gave me a chance to test out the internet, clean and prep all my cameras and lenses, and prepare all my templates for the night. After that was done, I still had a good chunk of time before the fights started, so I went to walk outside and take some pictures of the arena and fans lined up. Of course, just as I made it out to the front of the arena, it started raining and I scurried back inside to sit and wait for the fights to start.

The opening bout between Reza Madadi and Cristiano Marcello got the fans going and helped set the tone for the night. It was a back and forth fight with both guys swinging wildly. It seemed to me that Madadi was getting the better of the exchanges, and Marcello’s swollen face tended to agree with me. I was a little surprised when Marcello was awarded the decision. The crowd was happy though and Madadi didn’t put up much of a protest, so I guess it wasn’t too bad of a decision.

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – OCTOBER 13: (R-L) Reza Madadi punches Cristiano Marcello during their lightweight fight at UFC 153 inside HSBC Arena on October 13, 2012 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. (Photo by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)

The rest of the preliminary fights had some great wars. I was thoroughly impressed with Rony “Jason”, who may just have supplanted Akiyama for the title of best walk-in song. “Jason” landed several nice flying knees and really battered Sam Sicilia, who was one of my favorite fighters to come from TUF Live. Francisco Trinaldo took it to Gleison Tibau and I thought he was going to get the victory. In the end, Tibau scored the decision, but even he looked a little surprised when his hand was raised. Trinaldo had him in all sorts of trouble, which I don’t recall seeing Tibau in since his first UFC fight against Nick Diaz.

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – OCTOBER 13: (L-R) Rony “Jason” Mariano Bezerra punches Sam Sicilia during their featherweight fight at UFC 153 inside HSBC Arena on October 13, 2012 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. (Photo by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)

The whole night was kind of a blur to me. We had no breaks between fights, so I was hurrying to download and edit whatever I could. I didn’t finally transmit my first images until just before the start of the main card. It’s never easy to shoot and edit your own stuff as the fights are happening, but I tried to make the best of the situation and I think in the end I did a pretty good job given the circumstances.

Demian Maia kicked off the main card with a very quick submission of tough wrestler Rick Story. That was by far Maia’s best performance in the Octagon. He is a whole different animal at 170 pounds, and I think a real contender for the title.

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – OCTOBER 13: (R-L) Demian Maia secures a rear choke submission against Rick Story during their welterweight fight at UFC 153 inside HSBC Arena on October 13, 2012 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. (Photo by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)

The rematch with Phil Davis and Wagner Prado followed. The two fought earlier this year in a bout that ended in a no-contest after Prado suffered and accidental eye-poke and couldn’t continue. The fight was a little slow in the first two rounds, and Davis appeared to be ahead going into the third. Prado started pushing the pace a little more and ended up getting caught in an arm triangle choke. He escaped that, but then quickly found himself in an anaconda choke that he couldn’t get out of.

Next up was what I hoped would be fight of the night, and that turned out to be correct. Erick Silva took a big step up in competition when he stepped in the Octagon with Jon Fitch. Silva came out swinging and Fitch absorbed a couple big shots before getting in close and scoring a takedown. But he really wasn’t able to do much with the first takedown. Silva got back to his feet and was noticeably a little more tentative, but still attempting some of his flashy kicks and knees.

In the second, Silva had Fitch is a very dangerous position with a rear naked choke all but sunk in. I’m still not sure how Fitch was able to power out of it because the elbow was under the chin and Silva had a good grip. Next thing you know, Fitch is on top and going for an arm bar of his own. This all happened just below me, which made for some great pictures.

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – OCTOBER 13: (L-R) Jon Fitch attempts to secure an arm bar submission against Erick Silva during their welterweight fight at UFC 153 inside HSBC Arena on October 13, 2012 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. (Photo by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)

Fitch came out in the third with a mission to finish the fight. He got Silva down and quickly moved to mount. He alternated between mount and back mount through most of the round, landing heavy punches throughout. Silva escaped just at the end of the round, but the effort proved too little too late. Fitch scored the victory in one of his most impressive performances to date.

Next up was long-time hardcore favorite Glover Teixeira taking on a late replacing, but always game Fabio Maldonado. Teixeira blasted Maldonado right away and wobbled him standing. Something we really haven’t seen happen to Maldonado, who always brags about his granite chin. This allowed Teixeira to score a takedown and quickly move to mount where he punched and elbowed Maldonado for several minutes. How the fight was not stopped, I’m not sure. Near the end of the round, Maldonado managed to escape after Teixeira tired of punching. Maldonado landed a shot that stunned Teixeira momentarily, but wasn’t able to capitalize.

Between rounds, the doctor checked on Maldonado and allowed him to continue. His face was bleeding and badly swollen, but he came out swinging in the second. He was able to land a few more shots early in the round, but eventually Teixeira stormed back with some nice power shots standing that seemed to have Maldonado on the ropes. He continued to batter Maldonado throughout the second. Near the end of the round, time was called and the doctor again checked on Maldonado. Fabio pleaded his case and the doctor allowed him to continue. He survived the round, but the doctor finally stopped the fight between the second and third rounds. Teixeira was actually pretty upset with himself after the fight because he said Chuck Liddell told him to knock the guy out and he was not able to do so. Still, a very impressive performance by Glover Teixeira.

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – OCTOBER 13: (L-R) Glover Teixeira punches Fabio Maldonado during their light heavyweight fight at UFC 153 inside HSBC Arena on October 13, 2012 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. (Photo by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)

The co-main event featured Brazilian legend Antonio Rodrigo “Minotauro” Nogueira against Dave Herman. The beef going into this fight stemmed from Herman saying that jiu-jitsu does not work. After battering and dropping Herman with punches, Minotauro proved jiu-jitsu does in fact work when he made Herman scream in pain from an arm bar submission.

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – OCTOBER 13: (R-L) Antonio Rodrigo “Minotauro” Nogeuira defeats Dave Herman with an arm bar submission during their heavyweight fight at UFC 153 inside HSBC Arena on October 13, 2012 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. (Photo by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)

The night was capped by a masterful performance from the world’s best pound-for-pound fighter – Anderson Silva. He was taking on Stephan Bonnar in a light heavyweight, non-title affair. The match was thrown together quickly to save the event after both the main event and co-main event fell off due to injuries. For the first couple minutes of the fight, Silva purposely put his back against the cage and let Bonnar tee-off on him. Bonnar landed some very impressive shots and I was really surprised none of them were able to hurt Silva. After all, Chael Sonnen was able to hurt Silva in their first fight, and Bonnar appeared to be landing much harder shots. And then, as if he flipped a switch, Anderson Silva decided to finish the fight and it was over. A knee to the chest followed by a few punches on the ground and that was all she wrote. The crowd went nuts as Silva sat in his corner looking over at Bonnar. The referee asked Silva to come to the center for his hand to be raised, but Silva refused until he knew Bonnar was OK. That sums up the man that is Anderson Silva. He will knee you until you can’t continue, then feel compassion for you immediately after.

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – OCTOBER 13: (R-L) Stephan Bonnar punches Anderson Silva during their light heavyweight fight at UFC 153 inside HSBC Arena on October 13, 2012 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. (Photo by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – OCTOBER 13: (L-R) Anderson Silva punches Stephan Bonnar during their light heavyweight fight at UFC 153 inside HSBC Arena on October 13, 2012 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. (Photo by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – OCTOBER 13: Anderson Silva reacts after his TKO victory over Stephan Bonnar during their light heavyweight fight at UFC 153 inside HSBC Arena on October 13, 2012 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. (Photo by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – OCTOBER 13: Anderson Silva sits in his corner after his TKO victory over Stephan Bonnar during their light heavyweight fight at UFC 153 inside HSBC Arena on October 13, 2012 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. (Photo by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)

Below is a full slideshow in chronological order from the night. I encourage you to also check out my site, as well as the full take on Getty Images and UFC.com.


UFC 153: Silva v Bonnar – Images by Joshua Hedges

Bom Dia, do Rio de Janeiro

This morning is the first chance I’ve had to collect my thoughts and write a proper blog. I arrived in Rio de Janeiro for my UFC 153 coverage two days ago on Tuesday morning. The first event on the schedule was yesterday’s open workouts which were held at the Arcos da Lapa in the center of the city.

The trip was expected to take a little under an hour by bus from our hotel at Barra Beach. Thanks to some late attendees, we actually departed about 45 minutes late from the hotel, so I didn’t expect much setup time once I got there. The drive ended up taking about an hour and ten minutes. The traffic in Rio is always horrible, so there is no easy way to plan for journeys in the city.

Once we arrived at the venue, we quickly unloaded and found a spot to store all our gear while we waited for fighters to show up. The setup was pretty much the same as all our previous UFC events down here. Outdoors with the mats up on a stage, cooking in the hot sun. The temperature outside just before noon was a nice 36 degrees Celsius (about 97 F). Yes, it’s the beginning of summer down here in the southern hemisphere.

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – OCTOBER 10: A general view of the venue before an open training session ahead of UFC 153 at Arcos da Lapa: Praca Cardeal Camara on October 10, 2012 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. (Photo by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)

The biggest issue we’ve had in the past with doing the workouts outside is the heat of the mats. They have tried a number of solutions, but all have failed. However, this time, the workers were certain they had solved the problem. I couldn’t believe it when they removed the towels from the top of the mats covering a layer of ice that had been spread over the mats. Just before the first fighter was to work out, the workers scraped off the ice and did their best to dry the mats. Of course, as soon as the mats were cleared, the sun started baking them again and they were incredibly hot by the time the workout started. I’ve told them since the first time they’ve tried this that there is no good solution, aside from having the workouts indoors, which of course they do not want to do. So, the only other option is for the fighters to wear their shoes when working out.

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – OCTOBER 10: Workers spread ice to cool the mats before the UFC 153 open workouts at Arcos da Lapa: Praca Cardeal Camara on October 10, 2012 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. (Photo by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)

The first two fighters to workout were Dave Herman and Stephan Bonnar. Both put on very abbreviated training sessions due to the heat. Once the Brazilians started showing up, the fans were treated to a little more effort on the mats. Workers struggled between sessions to try to cool down the mats, but their futile efforts served no real purpose. The afternoon sun was cooking the mats and there was very little shade to be found anywhere. To make matters worse, the tent where we had stored our gear was taken over by the band Linkin Park and their security would not allow us inside. So, I spent the majority of the nearly five hours standing outside in the sun with two increasingly heavy cameras hanging off my shoulders.

All the suffering paid off at the end of the day when Anderson Silva showed up. The light was beautiful and the champ put on a great workout, hitting pads and lightly sparring. The fans showed great appreciation. One fan in particular was brought on stage by Anderson’s team and treated with a personal meeting, photo, and an autograph. She was overcome with emotion. So, when it was all said and done, it was a pretty good day. I still wish there was a better solution than standing outside baking for five hours.

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – OCTOBER 10: Anderson Silva works out for fans and media during an open training session ahead of UFC 153 at Arcos da Lapa: Praca Cardeal Camara on October 10, 2012 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. (Photo by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)

Below is a slideshow of my shots from the afternoon. You can also see the full take on Getty Images, as well as UFC.com. Stay tuned for more updates from Rio.


UFC 153 Open Workouts – Images by Joshua Hedges

Hello from Brazil

I haven’t had much time this week to post an update from Brazil, so now that I finally have internet at the arena a bit of a breather before the first fights start, I thought I should take a few minutes to update you all on my week that has been in Belo Horizonte.

I arrived Monday morning, via connections in New York and then Sao Paulo. All total, from the time I woke up until the time I entered my hotel room was nearly 27 hours. It was very exhausting, but all-in-all a pleasant journey for someone who vehemently hates to fly. I did my best to stay awake as long as possible, so as to get my body back on a normal sleep schedule. I was able to stay awake until about 10:00 pm before finally crashing.

Tuesday was spent preparing for the rest of the week. I did my research on the locations for the open workouts and press conference, and prepared all my templates and code replacements for the shoots throughout the week. As the fighters started to arrive later in the afternoon, I set up a small portrait area and photographed as many of the fighters as I could when they arrived. I think I ended up with 7 or 8 guys in total, but got all the necessary ones, so it was a good day.

Wednesday, was when the real fun started. We loaded up in the van early in the morning to head into the downtown area of Belo Horizonte where the open workouts would be held at Praca da Estacao. Our driver decided he didn’t like the traffic on the main route, so he took his own shortcut and ended up getting lost. After nearly and hour of driving, we arrived safely at the venue. Like past events in Brazil, the workouts were outdoors with mats installed on an elevated stage. Fans gathered in the square relatively early and, in my opinion, there was quite a good turn out. Eight fighters in total worked out, but of course, the star of the show was Brazilian legend Wanderlei Silva. Fans went nuts for him and he put on a great show for them in return. Our drive back to the hotel was much less eventful, taking a total of eight minutes.

Thursday brought the press conference, which was held in an auditorium at the hotel. The same eight fighters participated again and opponents faced off with each other following the festivities. The rest of the day was spent editing and uploading photos and catching up on emails.

Friday, we got our first glimpse of the arena when we headed over to the arena for the weigh ins. The arena reminds me of a bullfighting arena, but with a concrete roof on it. There is, however, no air conditioning. The roof is not completely closed as there are air vents at the top of the seats. But, when the wind is not blowing and you’re standing under several thousand watts of lights, it gets quite warm. Weigh ins typically are quite boring and uneventful, but this time we were treated with two heated exchanges between opponents and one fighter missing weight by five pounds. A quick ride back to the hotel after and then I was back editing and uploading more photos. I had hoped to be able to watch the UFC on FX fights via an online stream, but could never get it to work. I saw a total of about two minutes of the fights. I was able to watch some of the Bellator fights on one of the Brazilian sports networks, albeit with no audio at all. So, it wasn’t a total loss.

And now, here I sit waiting for the first fight in about 45 minutes. The arena looks to be about 1/3 full at the moment with fans continually piling in as fast as they can. When a fighter walks into the arena, they explode with cheers. It gets quite loud, despite not being full. Can’t wait to see what Wanderlei Silva’s walk-in will be like.

Until next time, here are a few slideshows from the week.


UFC 147 Open Workouts – Images by Joshua Hedges


UFC 147 Press Conference – Images by Joshua Hedges


UFC 147 Weigh In – Images by Joshua Hedges

UFC Rio Gallery

Well, I’m finally back in the states after the long journey from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil to Nashville, Tennessee. I spent most of yesterday relaxing and recuperating, though I did walk around a bit in the rain during the afternoon. It would have been time better spent working on this blog post, and for that I apologize.

UFC Rio: Aldo vs Mendes (aka UFC 142) was a good night of fights overall. As always, I was in Rio covering the event for UFC and Getty Images. But, unlike my last time in Rio, this time I was the primary shooter. Justin Heiman from Getty made the trip down from New York to edit for me, and he did a great job picking all the best shots and getting them out literally as they happened.

Between rounds and during slow moments of fights, I do my best to keep a check on the images I’m capturing to see if I got “the moment” and to tag any “keepers”. Justin managed to find quite a few great shots that I missed, and that always makes me really happy. It’s cool to witness how someone else might see a scene from a totally different perspective and use creative crops to make something out of nothing.

As I’m sure most of you are aware, I was well prepared and caught the full sequence of what could quite possible by the knockout of the year – Edson Barboza’s spinning back kick against Terry Etim. No doubt this was one of my favorite shots from the night. Up to that point though, the fight really wasn’t anything spectacular, and if not for the kick, there probably wouldn’t have been any decent shots from it. My how things can change in just an instant.

Another memorable moment from the night that really cannot be illustrated in photos was the energy of the crowd as Vitor Belfort took control and finished off Anthony Johnson. I could literally feel the crescendo of the crowd in the closing moments of the fight, and by the time the contest was halted, the sound level in the arena was deafening. I turned around on my box to take a look at the crowd and I saw a wave of people moving towards me like a herd of cattle. I’ve only ever seen something like that on TV during a big soccer match. It was incredible. But none of the pictures I snap really capture it like I remember it in my mind.

I really felt bad for Chad Mendes in the main event. I thought he was putting on a good performance and looked very calm and collected. It’s a shame for him that a deliberately illegal fence grab prevented a takedown and led to the ending of the fight. And for a fight to be halted with only one second left was crazy. Of course the referee doesn’t know how many seconds remain if he’s paying attention to what’s important, and it was a justified stoppage. But I think there will always be that question now of what would have happened if the fight had continued into the second round. Nevertheless, Jose Aldo showed everyone why he is the best 145-pounder on the planet and one of the best pound-for-pound fighters in the world.

Below is a gallery of some of my best shots from the night. Check out Getty Images or UFC.com for the full take.


UFC 142: Aldo vs Mendes – Images by Joshua Hedges

UFC 142 Weigh In gallery

Greetings again from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Today we trekked across town to the HSBC Arena for the first time this trip for the official weigh in for UFC 142. For those who have not been to Rio, the HSBC arena is in the Barra district on the grounds of the Olympic Training Center (Centro Olímpico de Treinamento) and very near to the future site of the Olympic Village. It’s quite a ride out from the beach areas, taking 30-45 minutes in good conditions and more than an hour in “normal” traffic. Couple that with the manner in which people drive here and it makes for quite a roller coaster ride.

Before the official weigh in, UFC Brazil host Paula Sack conducted a Q&A session with UFC Heavyweight Champion Junior dos Santos. I couldn’t tell you most of what they talked about as it was all in Portuguese and there was no translation provided. From my little knowledge of the language, I can tell you that Junior spoke of his respect for Jon Jones, Cain Velasquez, and Brock Lesnar. That’s about all I got.

Once the weigh in started, the crowd became increasingly restless in anticipation for the two feature bouts and their Brazilian contestants, Jose Aldo and Vitor Belfort. In bouts where there was a Brazilian fighting a non-Brazilian, the crowd would chant “Você vai morrer” or “You’re going to die”. Apparently it’s not meant as a death threat in the native language, but more like “You’re going down”. We experienced the same chants last go-around at UFC 134, so I was prepared for it. Joe Rogan, who did not attend UFC 134, was quite surprised when the translator told him the meaning of the chant.

All fighters made weight, save Anthony Johnson. I know many will find that as no surprise as Johnson has come in heavy twice before for UFC bouts. This time, according to his manager, he was on target to make the weight when his body shut down and he was ordered by a doctor to re-hydrate. Ultimately, Johnson weighed in at 197 pounds for his 185-pound bout against Belfort. Joe Rogan announced to the crowd immediately after that Johnson must weigh in again tomorrow before the contest and can weigh no more than 205 pounds. One would have to assume that will still mean Johnson must be in starvation mode overnight and will not be 100% fit for the contest.

By the time I finished the edit and caught a ride back to the hotel, it was after 9:00 pm. I decided to head out to eat at a local steak house. It was not quite as good as Porcao from my last trip, but was much closer and cheaper, so a good score in my book.

In preparation for the late start tomorrow night, I’m attempting to stay up as late as possible tonight. First bout tomorrow will be around 10:30 pm local time with the final bout ending somewhere around 3:00 am. With some luck, I will hopefully be back at the hotel and in bed by 5:00 am. It will be a very long day/night, but should be some great fights.

For now, here is the gallery of shots from the weigh in. For the full take, as always, check out UFC.com and Getty Images.


UFC 142 Weigh In – Images by Joshua Hedges

UFC 142 press conference gallery

This morning, we piled into the van and made the trek to Copacabana Beach, about an hour away, for the UFC 142 press conference. On the ride out, I shared the van with UFC Featherweight Champion Jose Aldo. It always amazes me how happy-go-lucky this dude is. He’s got one of the biggest fights of his life coming up in a couple days, with a whole country on his shoulders. But there is no pressure. He’s just laughing and making jokes with his teammates.

The jokes continued throughout the presser, though I couldn’t tell you what he was saying. I wasn’t listening in to the translation. He had the audience busting up at times though. Other than that, the presser featured the usual list of responses to questions that we seemingly hear at every press conference, such as “I’m in the best shape of my life,” and “My opponent’s tough, but I know if I can execute my gameplan, I can win.”

Luckily, the media was much more subdued this time around. There was no pushing or shoving or jumping in the way of my shot. Though I expect all that to return the next time Anderson Silva fights in his home country.

The ride back to the hotel was shared with Chad Mendes and Anthony Johnson, and included a hilarious phone interview quote by Johnson. I didn’t hear the whole line, but I’ll just say he somehow worked in the phrase “a whole lot of speedos” into his first answer. Good times.

Below is a selection of images I pulled from the full take that went out to UFC.com and Getty Images.


UFC 142 Press Conference – Images by Joshua Hedges