Best Laid Plans

UFC 162 Open WorkoutsAs is often the case with shooting on-location under questionable circumstances, you can only plan so much. Today happened to be one of those cases for me at the UFC 162 Open Workouts. I walked into XS Nightclub at The Encore with the knowledge from my experience of shooting there last July. However, a quick survey of the scene revealed a different setup from last year, resulting in totally different lighting conditions. I always bring along my speedlites whenever shooting a workout because I never know what the light will be like and at least I have the consolation of knowing I can always provide enough light for any situation.

Once I realized how low the ambient light was, I started breaking out my gear and setting up. Shooting in a nightclub can be challenging because those places are designed to cram as many people in as possible and they don’t have a lot of secure locations to mount lights or even put up light stands. I could only find one spot within range of the stage to setup a light stand, so I decided to double up my two FourSquare blocks and concentrate all my light into one source. I put the softbox with six speedlites about eight feet off of the back corner, stage-right from my position. My first plan was to be able to walk around throughout the venue and shoot from multiple locations, giving me a variety of angles for my light source. However, once the workouts started, I quickly realized I would not be able to move at all. In fact, I kind of painted myself into a corner standing on the stage, only having about ten feet of movement left and right. The light source was to my right, about twelve feet above the stage hitting from almost a 45-degree angle. So, it wasn’t bad at all. I had some great ideas for portrait-style shots I wanted to get while in the midst of the workouts. By the end of the shoot, I found myself scrambling just to make any kind of shots.

The real problems began when Anderson Silva prepared to come on stage. He always travels with a large entourage, and today proved to be the biggest yet. He had about thirty people with him, all of whom would be on the small stage while he was working out. So, I was fighting for space the whole time. Being a 13+ year staffer for UFC provides me with a lot of access, but when Anderson Silva is in the building, all that experience and access means absolutely nothing. His trainers and camp will deliberately move in front of you to prevent you from getting shots so their own photographer (with no credential at all) can get the exclusive shots. They will push you around. They will try to have you kicked out completely. I was prepared for all of this as it’s happened several times before, but today was by far the worst situation. Two members of his camp climbed onto the tower where my light stand was mounted and throughout the shoot they used my light stand as an arm rest. So, I tried to keep an eye on that through my periphery at all times. At one point, I was blindly hail-mary shooting over two rows of people who would not let me any closer. Finally, I managed to squeeze myself into a tucked spot on the edge of the mat underneath a documentary camera following his camp. Unfortunately, this meant that I had no chance to get anything of use with 70-200mm lens, which is my lens of choice about 95% of the time. But at that point, I was just in survival mode and wanted to make any photos I could.

When all was said and done, I made it out of the shoot unscathed with a decent take. And all my equipment survived for another shoot. The lesson to be learned here is that you can plan and stress and go crazy trying to make sure everything is perfect, and there will still be a rather large sized monkey wrench thrown in the gears to throw everything out of whack. You just have to go with the flow and try to adapt as best you can. Realize that not every situation will be perfect. But don’t panic and just try to look for other angles and options. And don’t always count on your subject being totally cooperative. It’s nice when they are, but it isn’t always the case.

Here is a look at my take from the day.


UFC 162 Open Workouts – Images by Joshua Hedges

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 Anhangabaú 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 Anhangabaú 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 Anhangabaú 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

Surfers Paradise and UFC on FOX 5 Wrap Up

I write to you today from sunny, beautiful Australia. I’m in the Gold Coast (Surfers Paradise) for the finale for The Ultimate Fighter: The Smashes on Saturday. I flew down here straight from Seattle following UFC on FOX 5 and went straight to work, so I haven’t had much time to work on a proper blog post.

I’ll spare you a long-winded writeup and just get to the good stuff. UFC on FOX 5 featured a great night of fights, which capped a fantastic week that I was able to share with my wife in Seattle. I covered the fights alongside longtime Getty staff photographer Ezra Shaw. Here’s my favorite shot from the night.

SEATTLE, WA – DECEMBER 08: (R-L) Matt Brown knocks out Mike Swick with a punch during their welterweight bout at the UFC on FOX event on December 8, 2012 at Key Arena in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)

And here’s my full slideshow from the night.


UFC on FOX 5: Henderson v Diaz – Images by Joshua Hedges

Sunday morning, I left Seattle destined for Gold Coast, Australia. My itinerary saw me layover in San Francisco for about 5 hours, followed by a 12-hour flight to Auckland, New Zealand and another 3 hour layover there. I finally arrived in Gold Coast mid-morning Tuesday. Upon arriving at the hotel in Surfers Paradise, I was presented with some of the best working conditions a man could ask for.

SURFERS PARADISE, AUSTRALIA – DECEMBER 11: A general view of Surfers Paradise as seen from the Hilton Hotel on December 11, 2012 in Surfers Paradise, Australia. (Photo by Josh Hedges)

While I haven’t had much time to venture out and see any sights, just the fact that I can wake up and open my blinds every morning to this view makes the workday seem so much easier.

On Wednesday, I spent the day shooting portraits of various fighters on the card. Nothing too exciting, though it was nice to see all the guys again who I worked with at the beginning of filming for TUF: The Smashes. Everyone is in great shape and excited to put on a great fight.

SURFERS PARADISE, AUSTRALIA – DECEMBER 12: (L-R) Robert Whittaker and Norman Parke pose for a portraits ahead of their UFC on FX bouts on December 12, 2012 at the Hilton Hotel in Surfers Paradise, Australia. (Photos by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)

Thursday saw us drive out to Boonchu Muay Thai for the open workouts. The gym is owned by legendary Aussie fighter John Wayne Parr. It was a pleasant surprise when the man himself greeted us upon arrival and welcomed us into his gym. It’s a very small gym in a warehouse complex, but it worked out great. 8 fighters from the card worked out in some form or another. Some only shadow boxing, others a little more intense. Here is a slideshow of shots from the workouts.


UFC on FX 6 Open Workouts – Images by Joshua Hedges

And today saw the fighters all hit the scale for the official weigh in ahead of tomorrow’s fights. All fighters made weigh on their first try and there were no big surprises. TUF Smashes Coaches Ross Pearson and George Sotiropoulos capped off the weigh in with a heated staredown. Below is the slideshow of images from the weigh in.


UFC on FX 6 Weigh In – Images by Joshua Hedges

My Trip to China

I sit here on another overnight plane, headed to the east coast. As I look back on the week past, I can’t believe where I’ve been and what I’ve been apart of. Last week, I covered the first ever UFC event in China from the Venetian Resort in Macau.

I flew into Honk Kong on Monday night, which is now the longest flight I have ever been on – 14 ½ hours from San Francisco to Hong Kong, in economy class, no less. I joke, it’s not all bad. I got comfortable tucked into my window seat with my laptop and a pile of TV shows to get caught up on. Of course, I would have preferred if my upgrade cleared, but I also knew it wasn’t very likely. The flight surprisingly went by quick, even though I slept very little.

Once on the ground in Hong Kong, I met my greeter and was whisked away to immigration and baggage claim. The immigration process in Hong Kong was one of the easiest I’ve experienced over the years. Before I knew it, I was in the back of a very nice Mercedes on the way to my hotel. I checked in at the Marco Polo Hotel in Kowloon and ordered room service before crashing.

Tuesday morning, I had a meeting at the Harbour City Mall, which conveniently was attached to the hotel. I headed over an hour early and walked around the mall, hoping to find some good deals. Sadly though, it was full of stores much higher end than my budget or preferences called for. We took a look at the space where the press conference and workouts would be held on Wednesday. It was a nice open area near the sports stores. It was originally designed to be a basketball court for kids to play on, so it was quite spacious.

After the meetings, I got my first experience on the TurboJet ferry across to Macau. The ferry terminal was about a 4-5 block walk from the mall/hotel, which isn’t as fun as its sounds when carrying all your luggage. With some help of my co-workers, I made it just fine. Ferry tickets are about $150 HKD, which is about $20 US. The ferry trip is about an hour across the South China Sea to Macau. From there, it’s another 20 minutes in the cab to the Venetian. I checked in at the Venetian and drug all my gear upstairs. The rooms there are quite similar to the Venetian in Vegas if you’ve ever stayed there. If you have, well, let’s just say they’re nice. Venetian is known for being an all suites hotel, and they are true suites, not just the holiday inn style. After a quick burger at McSorley’s Irish Pub, it was off to bed for the night.

Up and at it the next morning, I was headed back on the ferry to Honk Kong for the press conference and open workouts. The idea of doing them on the same day, in the same location, was brilliant. Let’s hope that trend continues.

The press conference kicked things off with just 4 fighters on the dais – main eventers Rich Franklin and Cung Le; Chinese fighter Tiequan Zhang; and Korean fighter Dong Hyun Kim. There was a solid turnout of media in attendance, though the press conference only lasted about 25-30 minutes. The new Octagon girls were in attendance – Jessica Cambensy and Ye-Bin Kang. There were a number of photo ops with and without the girls after the press conference concluded. Once all that was out of the way, they simply moved the tables and podium and laid down mats on the stage for the “demonstration” part of the day. This was just a normal open workout, with the added bonus of Urijah Faber providing commentary and explaining techniques to the media. Only Rich Franklin and Cung Le worked out, and only for about 10 minutes apiece. After that, there were some more photo ops. The day rounded out with Urijah Faber and Chuck Liddell teaching a couple techniques to some kids from a local outreach program in Hong Kong.

HONG KONG – NOVEMBER 07: Cung Le works out for media and fans during a UFC open workout session at Harbour City Mall on November 7, 2012 in Hong Kong, Hong Kong. (Photo by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)

After that crazy long day, we boarded the ferry back to Macao. I was able to get all my edits done on the boat in transit and uploaded everything quickly when I returned to my room.

Thursday was now a much easier day, having done both the press conference and open workouts already. I only had to shoot portraits of 4 fighters, and then do some more editing. The portrait setup was a little simpler than I would have liked, but when you’re traveling internationally, you can only bring so much with you. I was able to source some light stands and a backdrop in Hong Kong, so I only had to travel with four Canon 600EX-RT speedlites and my various Honl Photo softboxes. If I haven’t mentioned these before, let me just tell you David Honl puts out an amazing group of products. His speed strap system is the easiest and most portable light modification system I have ever used. Check out their full range of gear at HonlPhoto.com.

The fighters all showed up right on time, and for the most part were very cooperative. I noticed that Hyun Gyu Lim was a little less attentive than the other guys and he was refusing to remove his sunglasses for the photos. After finally convincing him to remove the glasses, I noticed his eyes were a little more sunk in that usual. He definitely looked to be struggling with the weight cut. I had visions of the last time I shot Anthony Johnson, when he came in 6 pounds overweight. But, we still had 32 hours until the weigh in, so I was confident Lim would make the weight.

I was met with a surprise the next morning when I woke to find the Lim v Mitchell fight had been cancelled after Lim apparently passed out in the sauna cutting weight and had to be sent to the hospital. The weigh ins were scheduled for 6pm, two hours later than normal. And with no Q&A session or anything before, I had a free day to get caught up on emails and have a nice lunch. I headed down to the arena around 4:00 pm to get setup and scope out spots to shoot from. The setup rarely changes for a UFC weigh in, so I typically end up shooting from the same spot every time. I just have to make sure I get there relatively early before anyone else steals my prime real estate.

Aside from two guys having to strip down butt naked and weigh in behind the towel, the event went off without a hitch. Everyone was on weight, despite several fighters complaining about the jet lag from the long travel and time difference from America. I think most agreed though that it was worth the extra bit of suffering to go through this experience.

Fight day finally arrived, and I was anxious for it to begin. I had been having trouble sleeping off and on all week, but on fight day I awoke just after 3:00 am. I tried to take naps throughout the day, but didn’t have much luck. The first bout didn’t start until 8:45 pm, so it was a little tough finding stuff to occupy myself in the meantime. I ended up arriving at the arena around 5:00 pm, hoping to have an internet connection to be able to get some work done. Unfortunately, the communications department took quite a while to run my internet line and I was left twiddling my thumbs for quite a while. I sat through rehearsals a few times and watched as some of the fighters started showing up to warm up inside the Octagon.

It was finally time for the first bout, and that opening scrap was a fun one. Riki Fukuda battled Tom DeBlass to a decision victory. DeBlass looked much better at middleweight and gave Fukuda all he could handle; though it was pretty clear Fukuda did enough to get the nod. The crowd was filling up quickly and was very enthused.

MACAU, MACAU – NOVEMBER 10: (L-R) Riki Fukuda and Tom DeBlass trade punches during their middleweight bout at the UFC Macao event inside CotaiArena on November 10, 2012 in Macau, Macau. (Photo by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)

The flyweight bout between John Lineker and Yasuhiro Urushitani was a barn burner. Lineker had Urushitani hurt a few different times throughout the bout, but could not put him away. Both guys are very fun to watch and this was one I thought would contend for fight of the night. Lineker took a unanimous decision victory.

The next few fights were decent, but nothing really stood out to me. The Danzig/Gomi fight was very close and could have gone either way. In the end, I felt Gomi did enough to get the decision, though Mac Danzig definitely disagreed.

The crowd went crazy for the Chinese fighter, Tiequan Zhang, as he battled newcomer John Tuck. You may remember Tuck from his appearance on The Ultimate Fighter Live when he gave Al Iaquinta all he could handle in the elimination fights, suffering a badly dislocated toe in the process. While Zhang had moments where he looked to be making a stand, Tuck was in control for most of the fight and looked quite comfortable despite making his UFC debut in the home country of his opponent. I had high expectations for Tuck, and was very impressed with his performance.

MACAU, MACAU – NOVEMBER 10: (L-R) Jon Tuck punches Tiequan Zhang during their lightweight bout at the UFC Macao event inside CotaiArena on November 10, 2012 in Macau, Macau. (Photo by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)

The fight that stole the show was Thiago Silva taking on Stanislav Nedkov in the co-main event. Nedkov came out firing early and was battering Silva. He would come in with 3-4 punches then go for a takedown, and then they’d separate and repeat again. Nedkov appeared to be in control of the first two rounds, having dropped Silva towards the end of the second round with a big right hand. But Silva managed to survive as Nedkov used a lot of energy trying to finish him. In the third round, Nedkov came out looking noticeably exhausted. Silva started teeing off on him right away with leg kicks, and then following up with overhand rights. At one point, turned his head and walked away, then looked at the referee like he wanted to quit. Silva rushed him quickly, took him to the ground, and quickly secured the arm triangle submission. Great performance by both guys. I was very surprised to see Nedkov tire. I’d really like to see him at 185. His frame is too small to compete against the big guys at 205.

It was finally time for the main event. Vietnam born Cung Le was to take on USA’s Rich Franklin in his return to 185 pounds after several years fighting at 205 and 195. The fight did not go at all as I thought it would. Rich came out throwing his usual kicks to the legs and body with a few straight lefts mixed in that didn’t do a lot of damage. Then, all the sudden, Le landed a right hook and the fight was over. I didn’t even know I caught the punch until about 15 minutes later when I loaded the card up to start downloading. It all happened so fast, everyone was in a bit of shock. Cung was jumping around the Octagon like he just won the title, and later he stated it was just a lucky punch. I understand he’s just being humble, but there was no luck in that. He timed it and placed it just right. It was a fitting end to another great event.

MACAU, MACAU – NOVEMBER 10: (L-R) Cung Le knocks out Rich Franklin with a punch during their middleweight bout at the UFC Macao event inside CotaiArena on November 10, 2012 in Macau, Macau. (Photo by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)

So now, it’s on to the next one. As I write this, I’m en route to Montreal for UFC 154. But before that, please check out my gallery of shots from UFC Macao: Franklin v Le.


UFC Macao: Franklin v Le – 11-10-2012 – Images by Joshua Hedges

Bom Dia, do Rio de Janeiro

This morning is the first chance I’ve had to collect my thoughts and write a proper blog. I arrived in Rio de Janeiro for my UFC 153 coverage two days ago on Tuesday morning. The first event on the schedule was yesterday’s open workouts which were held at the Arcos da Lapa in the center of the city.

The trip was expected to take a little under an hour by bus from our hotel at Barra Beach. Thanks to some late attendees, we actually departed about 45 minutes late from the hotel, so I didn’t expect much setup time once I got there. The drive ended up taking about an hour and ten minutes. The traffic in Rio is always horrible, so there is no easy way to plan for journeys in the city.

Once we arrived at the venue, we quickly unloaded and found a spot to store all our gear while we waited for fighters to show up. The setup was pretty much the same as all our previous UFC events down here. Outdoors with the mats up on a stage, cooking in the hot sun. The temperature outside just before noon was a nice 36 degrees Celsius (about 97 F). Yes, it’s the beginning of summer down here in the southern hemisphere.

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – OCTOBER 10: A general view of the venue before an open training session ahead of UFC 153 at Arcos da Lapa: Praca Cardeal Camara on October 10, 2012 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. (Photo by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)

The biggest issue we’ve had in the past with doing the workouts outside is the heat of the mats. They have tried a number of solutions, but all have failed. However, this time, the workers were certain they had solved the problem. I couldn’t believe it when they removed the towels from the top of the mats covering a layer of ice that had been spread over the mats. Just before the first fighter was to work out, the workers scraped off the ice and did their best to dry the mats. Of course, as soon as the mats were cleared, the sun started baking them again and they were incredibly hot by the time the workout started. I’ve told them since the first time they’ve tried this that there is no good solution, aside from having the workouts indoors, which of course they do not want to do. So, the only other option is for the fighters to wear their shoes when working out.

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – OCTOBER 10: Workers spread ice to cool the mats before the UFC 153 open workouts at Arcos da Lapa: Praca Cardeal Camara on October 10, 2012 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. (Photo by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)

The first two fighters to workout were Dave Herman and Stephan Bonnar. Both put on very abbreviated training sessions due to the heat. Once the Brazilians started showing up, the fans were treated to a little more effort on the mats. Workers struggled between sessions to try to cool down the mats, but their futile efforts served no real purpose. The afternoon sun was cooking the mats and there was very little shade to be found anywhere. To make matters worse, the tent where we had stored our gear was taken over by the band Linkin Park and their security would not allow us inside. So, I spent the majority of the nearly five hours standing outside in the sun with two increasingly heavy cameras hanging off my shoulders.

All the suffering paid off at the end of the day when Anderson Silva showed up. The light was beautiful and the champ put on a great workout, hitting pads and lightly sparring. The fans showed great appreciation. One fan in particular was brought on stage by Anderson’s team and treated with a personal meeting, photo, and an autograph. She was overcome with emotion. So, when it was all said and done, it was a pretty good day. I still wish there was a better solution than standing outside baking for five hours.

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – OCTOBER 10: Anderson Silva works out for fans and media during an open training session ahead of UFC 153 at Arcos da Lapa: Praca Cardeal Camara on October 10, 2012 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. (Photo by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)

Below is a slideshow of my shots from the afternoon. You can also see the full take on Getty Images, as well as UFC.com. Stay tuned for more updates from Rio.


UFC 153 Open Workouts – Images by Joshua Hedges

UFC 152 fight week

Greetings from Toronto, Canada. I won’t bore you with all the details of my exhausting week up here thus far. I’ll be covering UFC 152 on Saturday for UFC and Getty Images, and have been here since Tuesday night covering all the events leading up to the fight. Below are a couple slideshows from Wednesday’s open workouts and Thursday’s press conference.

I’ll be doing a bunch of new remotes for today’s weigh in, so stay tuned for those shots later tonight.


UFC 152 Open Workouts – Images by Joshua Hedges


UFC 152 Press Conference – Images by Joshua Hedges

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 on FX Open Workouts

I am on the ground in Sunrise, Florida preparing for Friday’s next UFC card featuring the rematch of flyweight contenders Demetrious “Mighty Mouse” Johnson and “Uncle Creepy” Ian McCall. Today, the fighters on the card made the quick trek across the street to hold an open workout session for fans and media at the Sawgrass Mills Mall, which by the way is probably the largest mall I think I’ve ever been to. The workout was hosted in an atrium area, just inside one of the main entrances into the mall, in a fairly high traffic area. There was a good amount of fans and media there, which was a bit surprising to me being on a Wednesday afternoon.

As I’m sure you probably guessed, I broke out my trusty FourSquare again. The ambient scene was not very pleasing to my eye with the various assorted logos, signs, and banners hanging around the mall, so I decided to load up all four of my speedlites in the FourSquare and really overpower the ambient light. The mat area was a bit larger than normal, so I opened up the zooms on the flash units to 50mm to get a bit more spread. The FourSquare (without baffle) was placed on a light stand about 8 feet from the mat near the center line raised to about 10 feet high and angled down just slightly. For the most part, my position was shooting from one of the two forward corners of the mat such that the angle between me and the light was around 60-70 degrees with relation to the subject. For some shots, I moved more to the side creating a near 90-degree angle and completely side-lighting the fighter. But, as you can imagine, they move around quite a bit, so it’s really tough to get a consistent lighting effect. One other aspect that I really had to contend with a lot today was the trainers holding pads. Often times when the fighter was in a perfect position to me and threw a punch that I caught, he was completely blocked from the light by his trainer. I wish I had a tall light stand to help with this, but sometimes you just have to pay closer attention and be a little more patient.

I shot everything with two cameras running Pocket Wizard MiniTT1 units with AC3 zone controllers on top. all four speedlites were set to zone A and initially set to full power. I used the AC3 to dial down the power to 1/4 power for most of the shoot. Camera settings varied a bit throughout the day, but the most common settings I kept going back to were ISO 800, 1/2000s, f2.8. That was about 2 1/3 stops over the ambient exposure, which is exactly what I was looking for to make for a less distracting background. I could have used fewer flashes at a higher power setting to achieve the same exposure, but I wanted the faster recycle time. At 1/4 power, the flashes recycle in about a second or less, as opposed to nearly 3 seconds at full power. And of course, at the lower power setting, you have less heat and longer battery life. I ended up shooting about 400 shots in total today and the flash units all still had plenty of power to keep going when it was over. For some shots, I decreased the power even more and slowed my shutter to bring in some of the background. The wider zoom on the flashes also lit up a little bit more of the background and the white ceiling and walls than I wanted, but that was the compromise I had to make in order to cover the most mat space.

Below is a slideshow of the shots from today. Please post your comments or questions.


UFC on FX 3 Open Workouts – Images by Joshua Hedges