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 Anhangaba├║ 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 Anhangaba├║ 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 Anhangaba├║ 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 FOX 2: Evans vs Davis gallery

Hello again from Chicago. I’m currently hanging out at concourse C at O’Hare Airport waiting to fly home. I shot the fights last night at the United Center for the UFC on FOX event, featuring a Light Heavyweight Title eliminator between Rashad Evans and Phil Davis in the main event. As I was also the assigned editor, I was not able to shoot every fight, though I got the majority of them, including all three main card bouts.

The main event went about like everyone expected, I think. Rashad Evans really only seems to open up when someone puts a lot of pressure on him. And, after the first round or two, Phil Davis pretty much quit doing that. In the end, Evans won a lopsided decision with all three judges scoring the bout 50-45. I was a little surprised at the shutout. It seemed like at least in the first round, Davis controlled the action and was far more aggressive, while neither fighter landed any significant strikes. But, that’s hardly anything to be upset over.

In the co-main event between Chael Sonnen and Michael Bisping, I found myself wishing that fight had been a five-rounder also. Sonnen did enough to win, but I think Bisping really surprised a lot of people in putting on a good performance and making the fight a lot closer than we all expected it to be. In the end, Sonnen is the more competitive match-up for Anderson Silva of the two, and how could anyone not want to see him fight Anderson again? Especially in Brazil.

The first broadcast fight saw late-replacement Chris Weidman taking on jiu jitsu standout and former title challenger Demian Maia. I didn’t really agree with the crowd as they started boo’ing very early on. I thought the performance by Weidman in the first two rounds was fantastic for anyone against Maia, but especially so for taking the fight on only about ten days notice. Both fighters were super tired in the third round and throwing half-speed wild haymakers. Weidman ended up winning by decision, running his undefeated record to 8-0-0. His next fight will no doubt be another big step up in competition, and I’m really looking forward to seeing how he does with a full camp to prepare.

The undercard featured several fun fights, including the fight of the night between Evan Dunham and Nik Lentz. Strikeforce transfer Lavar Johnson scored a big TKO victory over Joey Beltran to grab knockout of the night honors and Charles Oliveira used a series of leg lock transitions to tap newcomer Eric Wisely and bag the submission of the night bonus.

Below is a selection of my shots from the night. Also check out Getty Images and UFC.com for the full take of all our photographers, including my friend Nick Laham who shot up on the box for the evening.


UFC on FOX 2: Evans vs Davis – Images by Joshua Hedges

UFC on FOX 2 Weigh In Gallery

Despite the forecast for overnight snow, the weather today in Chicago was quite nice. I walked the short two blocks to the historic Chicago Theatre for this afternoon’s weigh in, expecting it to be quite cold. On the contrary, I really didn’t even need my jacket. Alas, you guys probably aren’t here to read about the weather though, so onto the weigh in.

UFC Bantamweight Champion Dominick Cruz kicked things off with the UFC Fight Club Q&A session. He was quite well spoken and did a good job overall. It was mostly questions about his next (and past) opponent Urijah Faber, but still had some good insight here and there. UFC vet turned MMA journo Shonie Carter joined the fans in line at the mic to ask the champ about the hospitality and food here in Chicago.

After the Q&A, there was an hour break before the official weigh ins started. Nothing of great note happened during the weigh ins, other than Michael Bisping giving the crowd the double bird after being booed. I think that’s the third or fourth time he’s done so now. Chael Sonnen followed that up by stepping on the scale with his pants still on and weighing dead on at 185. Next up for the main event, Phil Davis came out and stripped down to his Penn State wrestling singlet for his turn on the scale. Phil received a good amount of applause from the crowd. His opponent, Rashad Evans, was met with a mix of boos and cheers when he stepped from behind the curtain and onto the scale. Afterwards, the two faced off nose-to-nose with Davis sporting a sinister smile. He doesn’t seem to be rattled at all by the magnitude of this fight, no doubt the biggest fight of his career thus far.

Below is a selection of images from this afternoon, which can also be found on Getty Images and UFC.com.


UFC on FOX 2 Weigh In – Images by Joshua Hedges

UFC on FOX 2 Press Conference Gallery

Another frigid day here in Chicago. Today saw us driving a few short blocks to the W Hotel on Adams for the UFC on FOX final pre-fight press conference. Everything was pretty much as expected, except for the extremely low light conditions of the ballroom. I’m not really sure why it was so much lower than normal, but it definitely made for a more challenging shoot.

It came as no surprise to anyone in the room when Chael Sonnen walked on stage with a UFC belt and proclaimed himself to be the undefeated, undisputed Middleweight Champion. Though, interesting enough, he was seated next to Demian Maia, who did in fact defeat Sonnen by submission in the not so distant past. Nonetheless, Sonnen’s bantering was quite humerous.

Main event opponents Rashad Evans and Phil Davis got into a verbal sparring match when Davis was asked about whether or not he would defeat Rashad in a wrestling match. As Davis was giving his answer stating of course that he would, Evans interrupted taking jabs at the former national champ. Evans repeatedly said that Davis’ technique was “trash” and he could not compete on an international stage. Other than Rashad’s poor taste comments at the first press conference in reference to the Penn State scandal, there hasn’t been a lot of trash talk between these two. Today saw that change. I think it helped generate a little more interest in that fight, which up until now has been overshadowed by the co-main event featuring Chael Sonnen versus Michael Bisping.

Tomorrow is the official weigh in, which of course, I will also be covering. For now, check out the gallery of shots below from today’s presser. they are also available at Getty Images and UFC.com.


UFC on FOX 2 Press Conference – Images by Joshua Hedges

UFC on FOX 2 Open Workouts Gallery

Greetings from Chicago, Illinois. I arrived in town yesterday to begin covering the second UFC on FOX event for Getty Images and UFC. I’ve been to Chicago many times, but this is actually my first time ever staying in the city. I’m usually stuck in a hotel out by one of the airports or in the western suburbs. But this time, they put us up at the Hard Rock Hotel on Michigan Avenue. And while the weather conditions are less than ideal, it’s really nice to be able to stroll out the front door of the hotel and walk around downtown without having to ride on a train or in a cab for a while to get there.

Today, we drove down to the south side of the city to cover the open workouts at the Chicago Boxing Club. The gym is a second floor establishment without any of the frills and gadgets you see at most gyms today. There were two boxing rings in the center of the room, flanked by a few heavy bags and weights lining the walls. It’s what I would consider a classic boxing gym.

All fighters from the three broadcast bouts took part in the workouts, including Chael Sonnen, Michael Bisping, Demian Maia, Chris Weidman, Phil Davis, and Rashad Evans. Also on hand was Chicago-based heavyweight Mike Russow. The workouts lasted for nearly three hours, though that mostly consisted of interviews. Each fighter, as is typical at these events, only worked out for about 5-10 minutes.

UFC veteran Shonie Carter was also in attendance. He told me he’s “giving this journalism thing a try.”

Below is a selection of shots from throughout the day. You can also view the full take at Getty Images or UFC.com.


UFC on FOX 2 Open Workouts – Images by Joshua Hedges

The Ultimate Fighter 14 Finale

Sorry for the late posting. I’m in Toronto now for UFC 140, which I’m covering for Getty Images and UFC. Last Saturday, I had the pleasure of shooting the live season finale for UFC’s reality show The Ultimate Fighter, Season 14. This season marked the first time the Featherweight (145 lbs) and Bantamweight (135 lbs) weight classes were showcased on the popular series, and the fighters did not disappoint. Many people who have followed my days of covering the World Extreme Cagefighting (WEC) know that I’m a huge fan of the lighter weight classes. On this night, they stole the show.

The grudge match between season 14 coaches Michael Bisping and Jason “Mayhem” Miller turned out to be a one-sided squash in the main event. Mayhem tired after a very lackluster first round and proceeded to get pummeled for the next two rounds, finally being stopped in the third round due to unanswered knee strikes to the body on the ground. But, it was the two preceding fights, the Bantamweight and Featherweight finals, that were the real main events on the night. In the Bantamweight final, John Dodson defeated TJ Dillashaw by TKO in a quick bout. Some called it an early stoppage. From my vantage point, I thought Dillashaw was not defending himself intelligently after being dropped with a solid punch. The Featherweight final was surprisingly competitive. I think many people expected Diego Brandao to blow through Dennis Bermudez in much the same way Dodson did in his fight. However, Bermudez was not privy to that plan and came out guns blazing. He landed a number of good shots standing against Brandao and ended up dropping him with a short right hand. Bermudez followed up with some good shots on the ground, but in an instant was caught in an arm bar and in mere seconds the fight was over with Brandao the victor. That earned Brandao the 6-figure contract plus two bonus paydays for Fight of the Night and Submission of the Night.

As usual, the full take is available on Getty Images. Below are my favorite selections of the night.


The Ultimate Fighter 14 Finale – Images by Joshua Hedges