Best of 2013 – Fight Action

UFC 166 - Melendez v SanchezCapping off my “Best of 2013” series of galleries is the one you’ve all been waiting for. This is a collection of my best fight action images from this year. I limited it to the top 50 images – ok, 52 in total, but one is a 3-image sequence. Some will say that’s probably too many, but I had to cut out so many good ones just to get to that number. It’s amazing just how many fights I shot this past year.

The obvious choice for my favorite would be the renown sequence of Stefan Struve getting his jaw broken at the left hand of Mark Hunt. But, I have a different one that has stuck in my head ever since I captured it. The Diego Sanchez v Gilbert Melendez fight was one of the best fights of the year, if not in UFC history. As soon as I knew I had this shot (at right), I tagged it and set it aside for this gallery. I knew nothing else would top it.

Here is a slideshow of the full gallery. Please click through to my site and view everything at full resolution to get the full effect.

Best of 2013 – Fight Action – Images by Joshua Hedges

UFC 140 Open Workouts

Yesterday marked my first full day in the wonderful city of Toronto. I spent most of the day hanging out at the Xtreme Couture gym for the UFC 140 Media Open Workouts. There were a good amount of both press and fans in attendance. The workouts started out good with Lyoto Machida and Tito Ortiz being the first two fighters on the mat and both putting on a decent show. However, after Ortiz was finished, the Nogueira brothers were scheduled to come out. We waited for a bit… nothing. Waited a bit more… nothing. Finally, after about an hour and twenty minutes, they showed up. Minotauro started out doing interviews while his brother Minotoro (aka Lil Nog) spent what felt like another twenty minutes wrapping his hands. Finally, Lil Nog started hitting mits and we were back on track. Minotauro came out and hit pads and shadow boxed for a bit after his interviews were done. The day concluded with Frank Mir putting on a brief demonstration, followed by UFC Light Heavyweight Champ Jon “Bones” Jones who always dazzles the crowd with flashy kicks, knees, and punches. At one point, the fans were calling out moves and Jones would instantly demonstrate them – “Flying knee”, “Spinning hook kick”, “Axe kick” and “Spinning back elbow” were just a few.

The ambient light in the gym was pretty low, so I busted out the trust speedlite and mounted it to a pole. I played around with exposure levels and positions throughout the day. At one point, I had to detach the mounted flash unit and use it on camera when Minotauro was doing his interviews because the camera operators were standing directly in front of the flash unit.

The full take is available on Getty Images and Below are my favorite selects from the day.

UFC 140 Open Workouts – Images by Joshua Hedges

PBR World Finals

Tonight, I was asked to cover a fighter appearance with Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone at the PBR World Finals over at the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas, Nevada. For those aspiring photographers, let me give you a couple tips. Whenever you receive a press brief describing the event you are covering, take what it says with a grain of salt. Be sure to ask lots of questions. And even then, take those answers with a grain of salt. Second lesson, always be prepared. No matter how small or insignificant you think the event may be, it could turn into something much bigger and you don’t want to regret missing an opportunity. I’ve practiced this for some time, but tonight I was exhausted and perhaps a little lazy. I was told it would be a simple meet-n-greet appearance and they just needed a few quick shots. “In and out in 5 minutes,” I was told. So, I arrived with just a single camera and only a 24-70 lens and a 580ex speedlite. I quickly realized my mistake and wished I had brought my 70-200 and 400. This simple meet-n-greet ended up having us standing in the VIP/photo pit, on the dirt right in the middle of the action. It would have been so awesome, had I only been prepared. Next time I won’t be so lazy and careless. I shot some of the action anyways with my 24-70, and thought I’d share a few. Hopefully I’ll be able to cover PBR again. It was quite exciting.

PBR World Finals – Images by Joshua Hedges