I haven’t had much time this week to post an update from Brazil, so now that I finally have internet at the arena a bit of a breather before the first fights start, I thought I should take a few minutes to update you all on my week that has been in Belo Horizonte.
I arrived Monday morning, via connections in New York and then Sao Paulo. All total, from the time I woke up until the time I entered my hotel room was nearly 27 hours. It was very exhausting, but all-in-all a pleasant journey for someone who vehemently hates to fly. I did my best to stay awake as long as possible, so as to get my body back on a normal sleep schedule. I was able to stay awake until about 10:00 pm before finally crashing.
Tuesday was spent preparing for the rest of the week. I did my research on the locations for the open workouts and press conference, and prepared all my templates and code replacements for the shoots throughout the week. As the fighters started to arrive later in the afternoon, I set up a small portrait area and photographed as many of the fighters as I could when they arrived. I think I ended up with 7 or 8 guys in total, but got all the necessary ones, so it was a good day.
Wednesday, was when the real fun started. We loaded up in the van early in the morning to head into the downtown area of Belo Horizonte where the open workouts would be held at Praca da Estacao. Our driver decided he didn’t like the traffic on the main route, so he took his own shortcut and ended up getting lost. After nearly and hour of driving, we arrived safely at the venue. Like past events in Brazil, the workouts were outdoors with mats installed on an elevated stage. Fans gathered in the square relatively early and, in my opinion, there was quite a good turn out. Eight fighters in total worked out, but of course, the star of the show was Brazilian legend Wanderlei Silva. Fans went nuts for him and he put on a great show for them in return. Our drive back to the hotel was much less eventful, taking a total of eight minutes.
Thursday brought the press conference, which was held in an auditorium at the hotel. The same eight fighters participated again and opponents faced off with each other following the festivities. The rest of the day was spent editing and uploading photos and catching up on emails.
Friday, we got our first glimpse of the arena when we headed over to the arena for the weigh ins. The arena reminds me of a bullfighting arena, but with a concrete roof on it. There is, however, no air conditioning. The roof is not completely closed as there are air vents at the top of the seats. But, when the wind is not blowing and you’re standing under several thousand watts of lights, it gets quite warm. Weigh ins typically are quite boring and uneventful, but this time we were treated with two heated exchanges between opponents and one fighter missing weight by five pounds. A quick ride back to the hotel after and then I was back editing and uploading more photos. I had hoped to be able to watch the UFC on FX fights via an online stream, but could never get it to work. I saw a total of about two minutes of the fights. I was able to watch some of the Bellator fights on one of the Brazilian sports networks, albeit with no audio at all. So, it wasn’t a total loss.
And now, here I sit waiting for the first fight in about 45 minutes. The arena looks to be about 1/3 full at the moment with fans continually piling in as fast as they can. When a fighter walks into the arena, they explode with cheers. It gets quite loud, despite not being full. Can’t wait to see what Wanderlei Silva’s walk-in will be like.
Until next time, here are a few slideshows from the week.