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.