The Ultimate Fighter Live Finale

Hello again everyone. I wanted to post a brief update after last night’s fights at the Palms for The Ultimate Fighter Live Finale. I covered the festivities for UFC and Getty, as usual. The fights overall were great. There was a good mix of great submissions, great knockouts, and great drama.

The Pearl Theater at the Palms is a great venue to shoot in for a few different reasons. It’s a very small, intimate venue. When it’s full, the crowd feels like they are right on top of you and gives a great energy. The Octagon for shows inside the Pearl is a smaller Octagon by five feet across. So, you can shoot really tight on everything, even all the way across the cage. The light inside the Pearl is also very good due to the lighting truss being about two or three feet lower than normal. This gives you about 1/3 to 2/3 of a stop extra exposure, which for me means shooting at 1/1600 or 1/2000 shutter instead of the normal 1/1250.

This season of The Ultimate Fighter introduced a number of talented fighters to the world, as well as a number of emotional storylines. It was announced near the end of the season that all the fighters who were not medically suspended would be competing on the show’s live Finale, which I don’t believe has happened since the very first season finale in 2005. Unfortunately for Mike Rio, Andy Ogle, James Vick, and Vincent Pichel they were not able to compete due to commission-mandated suspensions. They will all have their chance at a future UFC though.

The preliminary fights started off with a bang when debuting Erik Perez pulled off a slick submission against John Albert in the night’s opener. However, the controversial finish was boo’d heavily by the crowd as referee Kim Winslow ruled that John Albert verbally submitted to an arm bar. Albert and everyone else protested, but to no avail. UFC President Dana White tweeted that Albert would receive his win bonus after the “ridiculous stoppage”.

Massachusetts native Joe Proctor made short work of Jeremy Larsen, earning the TKO victory in the first round with a knee followed by punches on the ground.

The third bout matched up Team Faber’s number-two pick Cristiano Marcello against Team Cruz’s number-two pick Sam Sicilia. The fight quickly turned into a slugfest. Sicilia seemed to be tiring in the second when all the sudden he started landing heavy shots, eventually finishing Marcello with a knee followed by a few punches.

Next, making his long-awaited UFC debut was Myles Jury as he took on Chris Saunders. After a bit of feeling out, the two started engaging and Jury ended up securing a guillotine choke submission in the last minute of the first round.

The last preliminary fight pitted this season’s resident bad boy, Chris Tickle, against the flashy Tae Kwon Do fighter Daron Cruickshank. While this fight had it’s moments of excitement, it also was a slower paced grappling bout at times. Tickle lost a point in the first round for an illegal upkick, and in turn lost the fight by a 29-27 score on all three judges’ cards.

The main card opener was a real treat as Team Cruz’s number-one pick Justin Lawrence battled Team Faber’s John Cofer. The back-and-forth stand-up battle went into the third round where Lawrence landed a highlight real head kick knockout. The fight earned Fight of the Night honors, as well as Knockout of the Night for Lawrence.

Next up were two young featherweights seeking their first UFC win as Max Holloway battered Pat Schilling en route to a unanimous decision victory. Holloway landed a number of brutal body shots that made me cringe at times.

The Ultimate Fighter season 12 winner Jonathan Brookins took on Brazilian Charles Oliveira in the next feature bout. Brookins has to be one of the most calm fighters in the cage I think I’ve ever seen. Always smiling, always having fun. He never panics, even when he’s in real trouble. Brookins managed to land some good punches on Oliveira early and produced a couple cuts, but in the end he saw a guillotine choke attempt of his own get reversed and found himself caught in a guillotine choke he could not escape. Brookins was forced to tap out.

The co-feature was the final bout to crown a winner for this season of The Ultimate Fighter. Team Faber’s number-one pick Al Iaquinta was matched up against Michael Chiesa, who after the passing of his father in the opening days of the show, was looking to finish a storybook ending to his amazing run through the competition. It did not take Chiesa long at all to write that ending as he was able to secure a choke and put Iaquinta to sleep in under three minutes. A stunned Iaquinta sat in his corner in disbelief afterwards as Chiesa celebrated with his mother and sister in the Octagon. Chiesa noted he would have never been on the show if not for his father and said he owed it all to him.

The main event pitted two top welterweight contenders against one another with a potential number-one contender fight on the line for the winner. Jake Ellenberger stormed out of the gates and battered Martin Kampmann with a quick barrage that sent the Dane to the canvas. Ellenberger swarmed him and continued punching on the ground, but was not able to land enough solid shots to warrant a stoppage from referee Steve Mazzagatti. Eventually, Kampmann was able to recover and survive the round. Kampmann came out in round two and began landing punches of his own. He landed a couple nice 2-3 punch combos and had Ellenberger reeling. After a flurry, Ellenberger stumbled backwards against the cage. Kampmann clinched and delivered a knee that dropped Ellenberger. Kampmann followed up with a couple punches on the ground as Mazzagatti dove in to stop the bout. Kampmann earned Knockout of the Night honors in another thrilling come from behind victory.

On a side note, I spent some time with Martin Kampmann after the post-fight press conference as he was being stitched up. I can’t help but love this kid’s attitude and approach to fighting. He is one of the most exciting fighters in the sport today, and he truly fights for the fans. Hopefully now he will get his shot at either Interim Welterweight Championship, or at least the number-one contender spot that he deserves.

Below is a gallery of my shots from the night. Please post any comments or questions.

The Ultimate Fighter Live 1 Finale – Images by Joshua Hedges

UFC on FX 2: Kampmann v Alves

Greetings again from beautiful Sydney, Australia. I apologize for the tardiness of my post, but what can I say, we’ve been enjoying our stay here now that the sun has finally shined for three days straight. If you follow me on Facebook (and “why not?” if you don’t), then you’ve probably seen my collection of tourist snaps from the last few days. It has truly been amazing. Yesterday we did the Bridge Climb, scaling up to the summit of the Sydney Harbour Bridge and back down. I was slightly terrified starting out, but 5 minutes into the climb, it was one of the greatest experiences of my life. I recommend anyone who has the chance to ever do it, please do. You will not be disappointed.

Ok, enough of that. You’re probably here to read about fights and look at bloody pictures. As I said before, the third UFC event in the great nation of Australia took place last Saturday at the Allphones Arena at Sydney Olympic Park in what was then a very rainy Sydney, New South Wales, Australia. The main event featured welterweight contenders Thiago Alves and Martin Kampmann battling to climb the ladder closer to a title shot in one of the more stacked divisions in the UFC. Thiago Alves looked well on his way to winning the fight by unanimous decision when in the third round, he shot in for a takedown and left his neck out for Kampmann to sink in a guillotine choke and force the tapout. Kampmann earned the submission of the night bonus for his come-from-behind performance.

The main card also featured a tournament to crown an inaugural flyweight champion in the newly established 125-pound division. Joseph Benavidez made quick work of world #2 Yasuhiro Urushitani with a TKO just seconds into the second round. But, the real excitement and controversy occurred in the other semifinal between Demetrious “Mighty Mouse” Johnson and “Uncle Creepy” Ian McCall. McCall has long been considered the top dog at 125 pounds, but “Mighty Mouse” still seemed to be the favorite going into the fight after coming down in weight after a highly successful run at 135 pounds. All three rounds of the bout were action packed. The first two were close and could have gone either way. The third round saw McCall take control and get the fight to the ground. He closed out the fight with a series of smashing punches from Johnson’s back. When the score cards were read, awarding Johnson a majority decision victory, the crowd let out a raucous boo in unison. And they were right. It was later revealed that the score cards were tallied wrong and the scored should have been a majority draw, and thus there should have been a fourth and deciding round. A furious Dana White made right, awarding both fighters a win bonus and awarding them both the fight of the night bonus. The rematch to decide the second finalist for the flyweight title will take place at a future show, depending on the health of both fighters coming out of this bout. I, for one, won’t at all be upset about seeing these two go at it again.

Below is a gallery of shots from throughout the night. As always, check and Getty Images for the full take.

UFC on FX 2: Alves v Kampmann – Images by Joshua Hedges

UFC on FX 2 open workout gallery

Ian McCall - UFC on FX 2 Open WorkoutsHello again from not-so-sunny Sydney, Australia. Today was a complete wash-out, so I never made it out of the hotel. Here’s hoping for better weather the rest of my stay here. My wife Jody and her sister will be arriving in the morning, and I’m hopeful their first trip to Australia will be filled with all the great sights I’ve had the pleasure of seeing. Luckily, the bad weather allowed me to focus on getting some work done. I shot a number of portraits of with some of the guys on the card and prepped the final headshots for the production team.

As I mentioned previously, we hit the ground running yesterday and shot the open workouts before even checking into the hotel. The workouts were held in a dimly lit corner of the casino back behind the 24/7 sports bar. A selection of the top six fighters on the card and a couple of the native Aussie’s worked out for the media contingent.

Below is a selection of shots from the morning’s workout sessions. As always, check out the full take on and Getty Images.

UFC on FX 2 Open Workouts – Images by Joshua Hedges

UFC 139 weigh-in

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.

Here are some of the weigh-in selects. Check out and Getty Images for the full take.

UFC 139 Weigh-In – Images by Joshua Hedges