Finally had a chance to go through the UFC 139 photos and pull my favorites. I had a blast shooting. It was a really fun event from top-to-bottom. My favorite fight without a doubt was Shogun vs. Henderson. Not sure if I’d call it fight of the decade like some people have coined it, but it was a solid fight of the year candidate. The Wanderlei Silva vs. Cung Le fight was also a good one. I think I was most impressed though by how Urijah Faber dominated and finished Brian Bowles. If Faber comes out like that against Cruz, I truly think he will finish the Dominator and take his belt.
Today, all the fighters on the UFC 139 card weighed in at the HP Pavilion to make their fights official for tomorrow night. Before the official weigh-in, as is customary, UFC hosted a Fight Club exclusive Q&A session with welterweight fighter Josh Koscheck. Though Josh was a bit subdued, he still managed to raise a couple stirs from the crowd. He mentioned that he has considered changing his name to “Boo Koscheck” so that when he enters the arena, people Boo’ing will be cheering for him. He also expressed his sadness for friend and teammate Cain Velasquez after his loss last weekend to Junior dos Santos, but mentioned that Cain was back in the gym again Monday morning after the loss. Finally, in answer to a common question Koscheck always receives, he said that he would rather move up to 185 pounds or stop fighting completely instead of facing teammate and fellow 170 pound contender Jon Fitch.
As the weigh-in began, there appeared to be issues with the scale, or perhaps the operator, as several fighters missed weight. It began with Shamar Bailey who came in 2 pounds over and was noticeably upset about it. Next, Nick Pace weighed in well over the limit, but his overage was apparently known about ahead of time and he came in 5 pounds over the limit. His opponent, Miguel Angel Torres, also mixed weight. Torres was also noticeably upset and turned to UFC President Dana White to say something. After that, the rest of the guys on the card made weight without (much) event. Dana had to separate Rick Story and opponent Martin Kampmann after Story got in Kampmann’s face and Kampmann, in turn, pushed him away.
In other news, I received a call last night that I had been bumped up to first shooter for the event due to an unfortunate scheduling conflict. Though I never wish for someone else not to be able to do the job, I’m quite happy and excited to back on the box for a big show again. And of all the shows we have lined up, this is probably the best option as far as excitement. So, I will do everyone proud and make the most of my opportunity. I’m really looking forward to it.
Today saw us drive up to San Francisco for the final pre-fight press conference for UFC 139. The conference was held at the Fort Mason Center at Golden Gate Park. Sadly, I wasn’t able to get to the other side of the building to get a decent shot of the Golden Gate Bridge. Dana White was unavailable to attend, so our UK import Ant Evans hosted the presser, and did a fine job I might add. Unlike last week’s press conference, we were stuck with the usual flat lighting. So, I wasn’t able to get too creative, but tried nonetheless.
I landed here in San Jose, California yesterday morning at 7:30 am and hit the ground running. Typically, I’d prefer to fly in the day before the first events start, but it’s always nice when there’s a flight available to get me there in plenty of time on the day of the event. In this case, I had plenty of time to work on the second edit from the UFC on Fox fights before walking down to the Heroes Gym just a block from the hotel.
The gym provided a very pleasing setting for the workouts. The sidewalls were a nice red brick and the open beam ceiling had huge skylights that provided more than enough light to get creative. I still fired the flash on some of the shots, as well.
Of all the fighters scheduled, Urijah Faber was really the only one that worked out for any considerable amount of time. Dan Henderson did not work out at all, so that’s why there are no photos of him.
I had the honor and pleasure to shoot the first ever UFC event on network TV this past weekend in Anaheim when UFC on FOX: Velasquez vs. Dos Santos kicked off from the Honda Center. I was shooting second camera for UFC and Getty Images down in the photo pit, and it was a great night of fights and a very fun experience. Spent the entire night shooting next to my good friend Ed Mulholland from ESPN. It’s always nice to shoot events with colleagues and friends. My friend Donald Miralle was up on the box for us and he got some great shots, as well.
I mostly shot with my trusty 70-200 and switched off to the 8-15 fish-eye when it called for it. Have I mentioned yet that I love that lens? I’ll write a review in the next couple of weeks for anyone that’s interested. Ed and I also ran up top for the Semerzier/Peralta fight and shot from the Press Box at the top of the arena. I had a 400mm which I’m really growing to love. If only it didn’t cost as much as a car. That turned out to probably be the best fight to shoot from up top. I’ll give all the credit to Ed for making the choice on that one, I just followed his lead. We also rigged an overhead remote with a 16-35 which I ran all night from a foot pedal.
I think everyone expected going into the fights that the Guida/Henderson matchup could be the fight of the night, and they did not disappoint. What a great performance by both fighters. It’s a shame one of them had to lose. Benson totally deserved that win, and it’s nice to see how his career has turned around since his loss to Pettis in the final WEC event last December. I really like his chances against Frankie Edgar.
Before the main event, I said I thought Velasquez would take it. I really believed he would just take the fight to the ground and grind out a TKO or decision victory. But, I did say to Ed before the fight started, if Junior lands a clean shot, I don’t know how anyone could remain standing. I honestly don’t know how Roy Nelson was able to weather Junior’s shots. If you’ve ever seen Junior hitting mitts, you’ll know what I mean. To say he has some pop on his punch is such an understatement. And he proved me right when he landed what didn’t even look to be a solid shot, but in just the right spot, to drop Velasquez and then pounced and finished him on the ground afterwards. I didn’t get a clean shot of the punch that dropped him from my hand-held camera, but I did capture the whole sequence and Junior’s celebration on the overhead remote, as well as with the fish-eye. Junior’s celebration was about the best you could hope for when planning a remote. He dropped to his knees in the center of the cage with his arms stretched out wide and leaned back looking straight up at the camera.
I’d like to extend a special thanks to Rebecca How for doing a spectacular job with the edit. And again, huge thanks and appreciation for my friends Ed Mulholland and Donald Miralle. Always fun working with/for you guys. And lastly, for Mike Roach and Kari Hubert. They help me out at practically every fight, mostly shooting backstage and behind-the-scenes stuff. They both delivered again with some really awesome, intimate shots.
Here’s a teaser of my take from the night. Check out Getty Images for the full take from all our photographers.
After the UFC 141 presser on Friday, the fighters for the UFC on FOX card lined up to weigh in for their bouts on Saturday. All fighters made weight. Benson Henderson, as is typical in his last few fights, had to make use of the towel. We were sitting directly behind Clay Guida’s family who had their usual assortment of flags, banners, and signs. I was hoping for a bit more exciting shot when Clay stepped on the scale, but the family was rather subdued. The audience was electric for the last two fights – Guida vs. Henderson and Velasquez vs. Dos Santos. Dos Santos was heavily boo’d while Velasquez was cheered loudly by the partisan crowd. Great crowd for what I would consider a smaller than normal venue for a weigh-in event. Here are the selects.
Special thanks to my wife Jody for assisting me with this shoot and keeping the fish-eye at the ready when I needed it.
I’ve been away for a few days, so I apologize for the lack of posts. This is the first of three for tonight that will get you caught up on my work from last week.
UFC fans got their first public glimpse of Alistair Overeem at the UFC 141 announcement presser that took place in liu of the normal Q&A session at the UFC on FOX weigh-in last Friday in Santa Monica, California.
The event was short-lived and nothing interesting of note came out of it. But, nonetheless, there were a few cool photos. Brock Lesnar definitely looks to be perfectly healthy and training hard. Overeem, as always, looks like a towering beast. Here are the selects
The fighters competing in Saturday’s main and co-main events held open workouts today for media and fans at the UFC Gym in Rosemead, California. I was there to cover for UFC and Getty Images. I used my same trusty lighting setup that has worked for the last few open workouts I’ve covered – a single Canon 580ex II strapped to the top of the Octagon and controlled by a PocketWizard remote. For this week, I’ve got a few of the newest PocketWizard FlexTTL units to play with, which among other features, allow you to use High Speed Sync and HyperSync. Quick first impressions… I love them. Configuration is a bit of a pain, as you have to do it from a computer. But, I love that they are much more low profile and less cumbersome than the Plus II and MultiMax units. Most of these shots were done with the shutter at around 1/800 or 1/1000 at f2.8. I had the flash set to manual mode at 1/2 power, and also used an external power pack to help with the recycle time. By the end of the shoot, the batteries were dying and I was only getting a flash about one in every five or six shots. Still came away with tons of cool stuff, I think. Have a look.