Hello from Brazil

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.

UFC 147 Open Workouts – Images by Joshua Hedges

UFC 147 Press Conference – Images by Joshua Hedges

UFC 147 Weigh In – Images by Joshua Hedges

UFC 139 gallery

Finally had a chance to go through the UFC 139 photos and pull my favorites. I had a blast shooting. It was a really fun event from top-to-bottom. My favorite fight without a doubt was Shogun vs. Henderson. Not sure if I’d call it fight of the decade like some people have coined it, but it was a solid fight of the year candidate. The Wanderlei Silva vs. Cung Le fight was also a good one. I think I was most impressed though by how Urijah Faber dominated and finished Brian Bowles. If Faber comes out like that against Cruz, I truly think he will finish the Dominator and take his belt.

Here are my favorites from the night. Full take can be seen on Getty Images and UFC.com.

UFC 139: Shogun vs Hendo – 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 UFC.com and Getty Images for the full take.

UFC 139 Weigh-In – Images by Joshua Hedges

UFC 139 final presser

Today saw us drive up to San Francisco for the final pre-fight press conference for UFC 139. The conference was held at the Fort Mason Center at Golden Gate Park. Sadly, I wasn’t able to get to the other side of the building to get a decent shot of the Golden Gate Bridge. Dana White was unavailable to attend, so our UK import Ant Evans hosted the presser, and did a fine job I might add. Unlike last week’s press conference, we were stuck with the usual flat lighting. So, I wasn’t able to get too creative, but tried nonetheless.

UFC 139 Press Conference – Images by Joshua Hedges

UFC 139 open workouts

I landed here in San Jose, California yesterday morning at 7:30 am and hit the ground running. Typically, I’d prefer to fly in the day before the first events start, but it’s always nice when there’s a flight available to get me there in plenty of time on the day of the event. In this case, I had plenty of time to work on the second edit from the UFC on Fox fights before walking down to the Heroes Gym just a block from the hotel.

The gym provided a very pleasing setting for the workouts. The sidewalls were a nice red brick and the open beam ceiling had huge skylights that provided more than enough light to get creative. I still fired the flash on some of the shots, as well.

Of all the fighters scheduled, Urijah Faber was really the only one that worked out for any considerable amount of time. Dan Henderson did not work out at all, so that’s why there are no photos of him.

As always, the full take is available at UFC.com and on Getty Images.

UFC 139 Open Workouts – Images by Joshua Hedges