How I Got The Shot

Greetings from Tokyo, everyone. As I sit here in the airport lounge awaiting my flight home, I’m catching up on the social media happenings from last night. A couple of my shots from the Mark Hunt vs Stefan Struve fight have received quite a bit of attention.

So, I thought it would be a little fun and interesting to start a new feature on my blog where I give you a little insight into what I was thinking and how I made a particular picture. I’m going to call it “How I Got The Shot”. This could be a one-and-done thing, but I hope not. Hopefully some of you find this educational.

For anyone who may not know what I’m talking about, here is “The Shot” from yesterday’s UFC on FUEL TV 8 even in Saitama, Japan.

SAITAMA, JAPAN - MARCH 03:  (L-R) Mark Hunt knocks out Stefan Struve with a punch in their heavyweight fight during the UFC on FUEL TV event at Saitama Super Arena on March 3, 2013 in Saitama, Japan.  (Photo by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)
SAITAMA, JAPAN – MARCH 03: (L-R) Mark Hunt knocks out Stefan Struve with a punch in their heavyweight fight during the UFC on FUEL TV event at Saitama Super Arena on March 3, 2013 in Saitama, Japan. (Photo by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)

I wish I could say I planned everything out perfectly and positioned the fighters exactly where I wanted them, but it just doesn’t work that way. There are so many variables that are within my control. I’ll start with the basics and work my way towards the actual sequence that ended the fight.

First and foremost, you have to get your exposure right. This is a very easy task, but one that people somehow still mess up frequently. UFC has a very consistent lighting scheme for all their shows. I know before I walk into the arena on fight day what I’m going to set my camera to before I ever fire a shot. And, for the most part, it doesn’t fluctuate much from venue to venue or country to country. I can usually count on the following being my settings for the night, within about 1/3 of a stop over or under – ISO 3200, 1/2000s, f2.8, 3400K white balance. I set all three of my cameras to this exact setting at the start of the night.

Before the fights even start, I try to take test shots under the full show lighting setup. This means being at the arena during walk-in rehearsals, which are typically 2-3 hours before the first fight. This gives me a chance to not only check the exposure, but also to check the white balance. UFC uses tungsten lights for all the overhead lighting in the truss, though the blue color of the canvas mat tends to skew it just a bit. I find that setting the white balance manually to around 3400K provides me with the look I prefer. Using the “tungsten” setting in camera (approx. 3200K) looks too cool to me. Sometimes, the color fluctuates too depending on the age of the lights and whether or not the riggers used any gels when hanging them. So, it’s always good to check. Just a side not too, I know a lot of people who set custom white balance using a white piece of paper or a towel. If that’s what works for you, that’s fine. I feel like that also is too cool for my taste, so I choose to do it manually. Look at the images on your computer screen too, not just the back of your camera, to decide what looks right.

Ok, so we’ve got the exposure and white balance dialed in, time for some fights. My assignments always require me to shoot every fight. I sometimes wish it could be like in boxing where people only really care about the main event or the last couple fights. But then again, there have been plenty “Fight of the Night” awards handed out for the first fight of the night. And for this fight in Tokyo, that looked to be the case as Marcello Guimaraes and Hyun Gyu Lim put on a nice performance in the opener. It will likely take you some time to get your timing down and figure out any focusing issues throughout the night. This is where it helps to have a number of preliminary fights before the “important” fights.

I had some good moments throughout the night, but I didn’t really feel like I had my timing nailed down until the Diego Sanchez v Takanori Gomi fight. Diego’s fights are always good for photographers. He comes forward, stays in the pocket, and has a really good chin. If you can’t make at least one good image from a Diego Sanchez fight, maybe you should think about trying something else. Or maybe you were stuck behind a pole and in a bad position for all the good action.

Anyways… Mark Hunt v Stefan Struve followed the Sanchez v Gomi fight. Hunt has been loved by Japanese fans for years from his days of fighting in K-1 and Pride. He’s always had an exciting style. You never have to guess how a Mark Hunt fight will go. He will get hit and he will hit back harder. His fights are typically either a test of how good his opponent’s chin is, or if his opponent would like to showcase their grappling. Knowing this about Mark and having shot a number of his fights, I found myself “sitting on” him, in a matter of speaking. What I mean is that I would put one of my focus points on his face at all times and track him waiting for him to throw something. Unless of course he was turned away from me, then I would follow Struve for those few moments.

Just before the ending sequence, the guys were a little bit more than 15-feet away from me when Hunt threw a big right hand that landed flush. I had a bad angle for it, Hunt was completely hidden and all I saw was Struve’s back, so I didn’t fire my camera. But looking through the eye-piece, I noticed this look on Hunt’s face as Struve absorbed the shot without going down. If I could put it into words what his face said, it would be “What the hell do I have to do to beat this kid?” At that point, I told myself to get ready. I had that feeling he was going to throw another right with even more power than the previous shot.

I was right. Hunt blasted Struve with a massive right hand, followed by a ridiculous left hook. My angle was still not favorable for the first sequence, but I managed to capture it nicely still. I caught these in two 3-shot bursts. For the first sequence of the right hand, I had my focus point over to the right side of the viewfinder up a little from center, dead on Hunt’s face as he launched the punch. I did my best to keep tracking him with the AF point, but to be honest, I’m surprised any of the shots after the first were sharp. For the second sequence of the left hook, you can see the second frame is not as sharp. The action was so fast, I couldn’t switch the AF point and remained on the right side. So then Struve jumped into focus. Below are scaled down shots of each sequence. These are exactly as they came out of the camera, only sized down. No sharpening or cropping at all.

Click on the images to blow them up larger.

SAITAMA, JAPAN - MARCH 03:  (R-L) Mark Hunt punches Stefan Struve in their heavyweight fight during the UFC on FUEL TV event at Saitama Super Arena on March 3, 2013 in Saitama, Japan.  (Photo by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)
SAITAMA, JAPAN – MARCH 03: (R-L) Mark Hunt punches Stefan Struve in their heavyweight fight during the UFC on FUEL TV event at Saitama Super Arena on March 3, 2013 in Saitama, Japan. (Photo by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)
SAITAMA, JAPAN - MARCH 03:  (L-R) Mark Hunt knocks out Stefan Struve with a punch in their heavyweight fight during the UFC on FUEL TV event at Saitama Super Arena on March 3, 2013 in Saitama, Japan.  (Photo by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)
SAITAMA, JAPAN – MARCH 03: (L-R) Mark Hunt knocks out Stefan Struve with a punch in their heavyweight fight during the UFC on FUEL TV event at Saitama Super Arena on March 3, 2013 in Saitama, Japan. (Photo by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)

Aside from the focus, I also got really lucky with the distance. Had the final shot been just a few inches closer to me, my 70-200mm lens would not have been able to focus and I would have been out of luck. Sometimes, you have to decide when to switch or when not to switch to your wide-angle lens. I made the decision to stick with the 70-200 as soon as the first punch landed. It cost me the chance to get any sort of jubilation shot immediately after, but I think it was a worthwhile sacrifice.

Once I did switch over to the wide angle, I was able to catch this gem of Struve telling Herb Dean his jaw was broken.

SAITAMA, JAPAN - MARCH 03:  (R-L) Stefan Struve points to his jaw as referee Herb Dean stops his heavyweight fight against Mark Hunt during the UFC on FUEL TV event at Saitama Super Arena on March 3, 2013 in Saitama, Japan.  (Photo by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)
SAITAMA, JAPAN – MARCH 03: (R-L) Stefan Struve points to his jaw as referee Herb Dean stops his heavyweight fight against Mark Hunt during the UFC on FUEL TV event at Saitama Super Arena on March 3, 2013 in Saitama, Japan. (Photo by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)

And that’s how I “Got The Shot”. Hope you enjoyed reading. Feel free to leave me any comments or questions.

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

UFC on FX: Johnson v McCall

Greetings everyone. I’m writing to you this morning from the Ft. Lauderdale – Hollywood International Airport as I await my 6am flight back home. I barely had enough time to finish and upload my edit before heading to the airport.

The UFC hit South Florida again last night with the rematch of Demetrious Johnson and Ian McCall’s controversial 125-pound title eliminator after their first bout in Sydney earlier this year was ruled a draw. The undercard was filled with scrappy fighters who may not be household names (yet), but still bring it.

The biggest surprise of the night, at least in my opinion, was Mike Pyle knocking out Josh Neer in the first round. Neer had been dominating the action and appeared close to finishing the fight himself when out of nowhere Pyle threw a looping overhand right with his back up against the fence and landed it flush on Neer’s chin, face planting Neer for the KO with just seconds left in the round.

In another shocking finish, Eddie Wineland knocked out Scott Jorgensen after overcoming a nasty gash he suffered from a Jorgensen knee. This was by far the most impressive performance of Wineland’s career to date, and was just as impressive of a performance from Jorgensen up until the knockout. The two were rewarded with the Fight of the Night Award for their efforts.

Young Brazilian Erick Silva was fighting for the first time outside of his home country and he didn’t seem to be bothered by any nerves or jet lag as he finished tough wrestler Charlie Brenneman with a rear choke in the first round, adding another impressive finish to his resume.

In the main event, Johnson and McCall went at it again for three fast-paced rounds. This time, Johnson left little doubt in the eyes of the judges, dropping McCall and overall landing much more than his opponent. McCall had his moments, but was only able to win one of the three rounds. After the third round, everybody in attendance wanted it to go to a sudden victory round, but it was not in the cards as Johnson scored a 29-28, 29-28, 30-27 decision victory and earned a shot at the vacant flyweight title against Joseph Benavidez.

Below is a selection of my shots from the night.


UFC on FX 3: Johnson v McCall – Images by Joshua Hedges

UFC 146: Dos Santos v Mir Gallery

I spent the better part of the day and night Saturday at MGM Grand shooting UFC 146: Dos Santos v Mir for UFC and Getty Images. There was a lot of hype behind this historic card, being the first time in the modern UFC era that a main card had consisted entirely of heavyweights. And when it was all said and done, the card lived up to the hype, and then some.

Despite the emphasis in marketing the heavyweight fights on the card, there were several really good undercard fights, as well. Longtime UFC hopeful Glover Teixeira made his debut, putting away Kyle Kingsbury very quickly in dominating fashion. Paul Sass pulled out yet another triangle choke submission against Jacob Volkmann. Late replacement Jamie Varner finished the previously unbeaten Edson Barboza.

The main card kicked off with the tallest fighter in the UFC, Stefan Struve, jumping guard on two-time KO of the Night winner Lavar Johnson and quickly arm barring him. This earned Struve another Submission of the Night bonus and pushed him another step up the ladder in the heavyweight division. Next up was a battle of two unbeatens, as 8-0 Stipe Miocic battled 11-0 Shane Del Rosario. Del Rosario looked good in the early goings, landing a lot of kicks. The first time Octagon jitters didn’t seem to bother him. As the fight drew on, though, Miocic began to land strikes of his own before getting the fight to the ground where he ended it with some brutal elbows.

In the third heavyweight feature bout, Roy “Big Country” Nelson made quick work of Dave Herman with a brutal overhand right, sending Herman crashing to the canvas and earning Nelson another Knockout of the Night bonus. That bout was followed up by Cain Velasquez quickly TKO’ing Antonio “Big Foot” Silva in one of the bloodiest fights I’ve ever witnessed. Cain split “Big Foot” open early in round one and jumped on him like a lion on a gazelle. Referee Josh Rosenthal finally halted the bout a couple minutes later after “Big Foot” could not see through all the blood.

Finally, the main event saw Heavyweight Champion Junior dos Santos trying to do what previous champion Cain Velasquez was not able to do, successfully defend his title. Dos Santos’ original opponent, Alistair Overeem was removed from the card after a pre-fight drug screening denied him a license for the fight. Frank Mir stepped in on about 6 weeks notice to take the fight, and looked to pose an interesting challenge to the champion. As the fight unfolded though, the champ took control. A barrage at the end of the first round nearly ended the fight, but it would come just a couple minutes later in the second round when Dos Santos floored Mir with a straight right and followed up with some crashing hammer fists on the ground. The champ scored another highlight reel KO, and I nailed the shot!

I had a great time shooting the fights again and catching up with friends and colleagues, including Donald Miralle, Rod Mar, James Law, Esther Lin, and Paul Thatcher. I encourage you to check out their shots from the night, as well.

Below is my selection of shots from the night. As always, check them out on Getty Images and UFC.com.


UFC 146: Dos Santos v Mir – Images by Joshua Hedges

UFC on FOX 3 fight gallery

Saturday night, UFC returned to the IZOD Center (formerly Meadlowlands Arena) for the first time in nearly 11 years with the third installment of UFC on FOX. I was in Jersey covering the event for UFC and Getty Images. Fresh off of Sports Shooter Academy IX, I was very eager to work on new things I had learned and try to challenge myself more instead of just going for “safe” shots. I think the end result is one of the better shoots I’ve had since I began shooting the UFC. It always helps to have good fights too.

The main event featured a lightweight contest between New Jersey standout Jim Miller and Stockton, California’s Nate Diaz. This event proved to be UFC’s best FOX broadcast yet with all four main card bouts thrilling the fans. The undercard on FUEL TV was also a really good collection of fights.

Diaz handled Miller in the main event with little trouble. I was quite surprised at how easy Diaz made it look. He ended up submitting Miller with a tight guillotine choke in the second round – the first time in Miller’s 25-fight career he had been finished. Diaz used his length to pepper Miller with punches from the outside. Once he got the opportunity to go for the submission, he jumped on it and sealed the victory quickly. After the bout, Diaz said he found it difficult to get motivated to train for this fight because he had nothing but respect for Miller and no animosity. He also encouraged the fans to buy Miller’s signature TapouT shirt for which a portion of all sales will go towards the medical fund for Miller’s nephew little Danny Miller.

In the co-feature, Johny Hendricks earned himself a shot at the UFC Welterweight Championship with his split-decision victory over former title challenger Josh Koscheck. Hendricks looked a little nervous early on, but it didn’t take long for him to open up and start landing power shots. Koscheck’s eye began to swell early in the second and seemed to bother him. He was never able to find his rhythm. In the end, the judges scored it 29-28, 29-28, 28-29 for Johny Hendricks.

In a middleweight bout, Alan Belcher survived the ground attack of Rousimar Palhares and put him away by TKO in the first round. At one point, Belcher was working for a submission of his own before ending up in the top position and raining down punches and elbows.

The opener on the FOX broadcast featured two heavyweight sluggers going toe-to-toe as Lavar Johnson earned his second UFC victory and second “Knockout of the Night” award, putting away Pat Barry in the first round. It was clear early on that Barry’s size was going to make for a very rough night. Barry is the shortest heayweight in the UFC, and that played right into Johnson’s game allowing him to land heavy shots from a distance where Barry could barely even connect. At one point, Barry got the fight to the ground and was working a submission, but Johnson endured and made it back to his feet where he was able to finally drop Barry and secure the TKO victory.

Several undercard fights were quite good, as well. Fight of the Night honors went to Louis Gaudinot and John Lineker who stood toe-to-toe swinging for the fences for the better part of two rounds. Neither showed a clear advantage until late in the second round, Gaudinot jumped into a guillotine choke and put Lineker to sleep with just seconds remaining in the round.

TUF 13 winner Tony Ferguson had his first stumble in the Octagon as he was out-pointed by TUF 12 finalist Michael Johnson. The fight was contested entirely on the standup. Both fighters had their moments and landed big shots. In the end, it was Johnson’s higher rate of strikes, and having dropped Ferguson twice that earned him the victory.

Below is a gallery of my shots from the night. Please visit my website (www.jhedgesphoto.com) for the complete gallery, as well as UFC.com and Getty Images for their editorial selections from the night.

As always, I’d love to hear your thoughts, comments, and questions.


UFC on FOX 3: Diaz v Miller – Images by Joshua Hedges

UFC 144: Edgar vs Henderson gallery

Hello from Sydney, Australia. After an incredible week in Japan, I’ve finally made it down to the “land down under” to cover UFC on FX: Kampmann vs Alves for UFC and Getty Images. I had intended every intention of writing this blog post along my journey, but that just did not happen. I feel like so much has happened in the last 36 hours, I’m still trying to digest it all. So, I’ll get right into it.

UFC returned to Japan for the first time in 12 years with UFC 144 as Frankie Edgar put his UFC Lightweight Championship on the line in the main event against number-one contender Benson Henderson. But before the main event, there were eleven other great fights to keep the crowd entertained.

The bus to Saitama departed the hotel at 6:00 am on fight day. Due to the time difference, the show had to take place in the morning in Japan to air during the normal timeslot in North America. After about 45 minutes on the bus, we arrived at the Saitama Super Arena. And let me just say, they hit the nail on the head with the name of this place as it truly is an awesome arena. The configuration for UFC 144 must have allowed for somewhere around 22,000 fans in attendance. Doors opened at 9:00 am and the venue started filling up quickly.

The first bout went off right around 9:30 am with Issei Tamura knocking out Tiequan Zhang in brutal fashion to get the show off to a fantastic start. Many people probably thought as I did that we had just witnessed the Knockout of the Night. Well, as fate would have it, we were wrong. But that’s a good thing for the UFC, fans, and the fighters.

Slowly but surely, the fights went down one by one. The arena was mostly full before the live pay-per-view broadcast began at noon. For the most part, the crowd wasn’t much different than some other crowds we’ve seen around the world. I expected it to be much more quiet, but there really weren’t too many quiet moments. There were even rounds of boo’s during slow moments of a couple fights.

Norifumi “Kid” Yamamoto had a large contingent of supporters in attendance for his bout against England’s Vaughn Lee. “Kid” looked to be on his way to victory, blasting Lee with punches in the standup exchanges. But, the Brit found a way to get it to the ground, and rather quickly started working submissions. He eventually secured an arm bar, forcing Yamamoto to tap in the first round. The victory gave Lee the Submission of the Night award, being the lone submission of the event.

Anthony “Showtime” Pettis kicked off the live pay-per-view telecast with a thrilling first round knockout of Joe Lauzon. Pettis landed a perfectly timed kick to the jaw of Lauzon, putting him down in an instant. After following up with two flush punches on the ground, the referee stopped the fight and the Knockout of the Night crown was sealed.

Following that up was going to be a tough task, but the rest of the fights did not disappoint. Mark Hunt TKO’d Cheick Kongo in the first round; Tim Boetsch came back from the brink of defeat to TKO Yushin Okami with a brutal series of uppercuts in the third round; Jake Shields scored an impressive unanimous decision victory over Yoshihiro Akiyama; and in the co-main event, Ryan Bader easily out-pointed Quinton “Rampage” Jackson. The Japanese fans were treated to a classic Rampage slam during the bout, but that was really the only bright spot for Jackson throughout the three rounds.

In the main event, Benson Henderson showed up with a mission to take home the title and was not letting anyone get in his way. After dropping the first round on all three judges cards, Henderson turned it around in the second, landing a solid up-kick to the face of Edgar which stunned the champ. After that, Henderson took over and peppered the champ with kicks, knees, and punches throughout the five rounds. At the end of it all, Henderson captured the title by a unanimous judges’ decision. Both Henderson and Edgar were rightfully awarded the Fight of the Night honor.

The fights in Saitama ended around 4:00 pm and I was fortunate to get on one of the first transports back to the hotel. Having transmitted the bulk of the images throughout the fights, I only had about 30-40 left to edit and caption on the long bus ride back to the hotel. It worked out great and I was able to get everything ready so all I had to do was plug in and hit “send” when I got to my room. I wandered across the street to 7-11 to use up some of my Yen and grab lunch while the upload finished. Then, it was back to get started packing for the long journey the next morning.

I was scheduled to leave the hotel at 7:00 am the next morning for a long day of travel down to Sydney. Due to some heavy sleepers, we didn’t end up leaving the hotel until nearly 7:30. Anyone who has ever traveled with me knows that is one of my biggest pet peeves. I hate being late, especially for an international flight where there are heavier restrictions on check-in times and longer lines to wait in at the check-in desk and security. As it turned out though, we still had plenty of time. It was about an hour en route to the airport. I was able to go through the business class check-in line at the Singapore Airlines counter, thanks to my United 1K status, so check-in was a breeze. The very helpful agent also waived my baggage fees, saving me close to $1,000. Ten minutes later, I was through security and hanging out in the United lounge.

The first leg of my journey saw me fly from Tokyo’s Narita Airport seven hours down to Singapore’s Changi Airport. I had been looking forward to this trip ever since I watched Anthony Bourdain’s The Layover where he visited Singapore. The airport features a free movie theater, more shopping than you’ll find at most American malls, tons of great food, a butterfly garden, and a rooftop pool. I didn’t have a chance to make it to the pool, nor did I have the time to catch a movie. But, I did pick up some souvenirs at the Hard Rock Cafe, the 34th different one that I’ve visited, and I spent a few minutes watching the butterflies.

From Singapore, it was an additional eight hours en route to Sydney. And, for the first time in my life, I would be flying on an Airbus A380 super jumbo jet. Of course, as soon as I found this out, I requested an upper deck seat. Though, in hindsight it didn’t make any difference and probably only delayed me more from deplaning quickly upon arriving in Sydney. Singapore Air, though, is one of the nicer airlines I have had the pleasure of flying. It was a very pleasant trip, albeit very long and draining. Next time, I will definitely make more of an effort to upgrade to business class.

I knew I was in for a long day once I arrived in Sydney, but had hoped to make the best of it. The flight landed at about 7:30 am, just three hours before the open workouts were slated to start. By the time I made it through customs and boarded the bus to the hotel with the rest of the group, we had less than an hour until the workouts. So, I felt very stressed from the start. To add to the stress, there were no hotel rooms available, so I was unable to freshen up at all before going to shoot the open workouts. I apologize for anyone that was near me at the workouts if I had an odd odor. Once I started shooting the workouts, things all sort of just worked themselves out and the stress slowly alleviated. But, that’s another blog post perhaps for tomorrow.

For now, here’s a gallery of images I shot during UFC 144 in Saitama, Japan. As always, check out the full take at UFC.com and Getty Images.


UFC 144: Edgar vs Henderson – Images by Joshua Hedges

UFC on FUEL TV: Sanchez v Ellenberger Gallery

It’s been quite a while since I’ve posted an update. The wife and I were on a much needed vacation last week in our future home of Denver, Colorado. It’s so beautiful this time of year. From Denver, I flew straight to Omaha, Nebraska to cover the inaugural UFC event on FUEL TV, featuring Omaha’s own Jake Ellenberger taking on Diego Sanchez in the main event. We all expected big things from that fight, and it totally lived up to the hype. A tremendous performance by both guys, with Ellenberger pulling out the victory by decision. The two earned the Fight of the Night award for their performance.

The main card on FUEL also featured up-and-coming heavyweight Stipe Miocic who won the Knockout of the Night bonus for his dismantling of previously unbeaten Brit Phil De Fries. 6’11” Stefan Struve scored a TKO victory over a grotesquely hairy Dave Herman. Brazilian Ronny Markes made a successful debut at middleweight, outpointing dangerous Aaron Simpson. That was a great fight too. TUF runner-up TJ Dillashaw scored a lopsided decision over Walel Watson. In the opener, El Salvador’s Ivan Menjivar won the Submission of the Night award in a great, quick fight against John Albert.

Here is a gallery of shots from the night. As always, check out the full take on Getty Images and UFC.com.


UFC on FUEL TV: Sanchez v Ellenberger – Images by Joshua Hedges

UFC 143 Diaz vs Condit Gallery

Hey everybody. What a great night of fights last night. As usual, I covered UFC 143 for Getty Images and UFC. The annual Superbowl weekend event was originally set to feature a Welterweight Championship battle between heated rivals Nick Diaz and Champion Georges St-Pierre. However, a training injury sidelined St-Pierre and gave Carlos Condit his big shot at UFC gold. The new contest between Diaz and Condit was established to be for an interim championship belt, since St-Pierre could be out of action for up to a year.

As is sometimes the case, the undercard fights nearly stole the show. In the first bout of the night between debuting fighters Stephen Thompson and Dan Stittgen, the KO of the Night award was handed out when Thompson landed a great three strike combo, finishing with a high kick that put Stittgen out for good. Matt Brown also had a great performance in knocking out Chris Cope. Newcomer Henry Martinez looked great in his debut, but came up just a hair short in a split-decision loss to Matthew Riddle. The Submission of the Night award was won by Dustin Poirier who transitioned beautifully between different submissions on the ground, finally tapping out Max Holloway with a mounted triangle/arm bar.

The new UFC intro aired in-house to get the crowd fired up, and I must say it was quite awesome. Before the fight, I had a chance to grab shots of a lot of celebrities in attendance, including my friend Wilmer Valderama, Vanilla Ice, Benji and Joel Madden, Jaime Pressly, MC Hammer, Roy Jones Jr, and all-time hits leader Pete Rose. MC Hammer was actually there for the first fight of the night, which is impressive if you’ve ever been to a UFC in Vegas. Barely anyone is in the arena for the first 2-3 fights.

Starting off the main card was Ed Herman weathering a good storm from Clifford Starks and eventually putting him away with a rear choke submission. Renan Barao handled Scott Jorgensen with a unanimous decision, running his unbeaten streak to 28 fights. Welterweights Josh Koscheck and Mike Pierce went the distance, as well, with Koscheck winning a split decision. In my opinion, I thought Pierce did enough to win. In the co-main event, Fabricio Werdum completely dominated the always-tough Roy “Big Country” Nelson, scoring a unanimous decision. Both men were awarded the Fight of the Night bonus after their performance.

The main event didn’t end up being the slugfest everyone had hoped for, but was still a decent, highly technical fight. Carlos Condit ended up scoring a unanimous decision victory Nick Diaz with the judges’ cards reading 48-47, 49-46, 49-46. A lot of people apparently feel Diaz should have won. I personally don’t see how, but I’ll concede that I don’t get the best view of the fight from a judging perspective. I had Diaz winning only one round, with one more being close. A very frustrated Diaz appeared to announce his retirement from MMA in the Octagon after the fight, stating that he’s “tired of playing this game.” Condit captures the interim UFC Welterweight Championship with the victory, as well as a brand new Harley Davidson motorcycle. Quote of the night comes from Condit at the post-fight presser when asked what Diaz was saying to him throughout the fight. He said at one point, after he threw a spinning backfist, Diaz said to him “Oh, so we’re throwing spinning shit now?” Carlos said, “I had to laugh at that.”

We tried out some strobes for the first time during live fights, with a couple lights mounted at different angles, and on different channels. I think they turned out great, especially the ones I shot from the press box overhead. This is definitely something we will be doing again. Big thanks to Nick Laham for the idea and allowing me to use them to capture a few shots. Also thanks to our always trusty assistant Mike Roach for helping with the rigging and testing.

Below is a selection of shots I captured throughout the night. Check out the rest from all our photographers on Getty Images and UFC.com.


UFC 143 Diaz vs Condit – Images by Joshua Hedges