Thursday, 29 October 2009

Machida-Rua called as it was seen

MMA Reporter Franklin McNeil (no relation) has an excellent write-up regarding the controversy surrounding the Machida - Rua result from UFC 104; specifically, that the judge's decisions are solely reflective of how they saw the fight.

First off, I'd like to say that I've not seen the Machida-Rua fight yet; therefore I have no opinion on how the fight was scored.

That said, I've been sat next to judges whilst shooting UFC events - literally elbow-to-elbow with them - and have first hand experience of the issues that they face when trying to read and score a fight.

There have been a few occasions where I've thought a fight went in favour of one guy (based on my vantage point) only to be surprised when the scores came in.

If I've simply shooting a fight and thinking "Hey, this guy's got in it the bag" based on what I saw... well the same must hold true of the judges. How else to you explain split decisions or differences in how many rounds are scored for which fighter?

I'll tell you what it's not: it's not incompetence, it's not fight-fixing and it's not corruption.

Read the article, think a little and then hopefully it might clear up some of the trash talk that's been going on about the judges in the Machida - Rua fight. I'd invite anyone to try doing their job from their vantage point. It ain't easy.

Monday, 26 October 2009

Brock Lesnar Knocked Out...

seems that Brock Lesnar is mortal after all; he's been knocked out of UFC 106 by a case of flu (no-one knows for sure if it's H1N1 but hey, he's had it for going on three weeks now)

A side-effect of this is that ESPN have ran my shot of Brock at the pre-fight presser for UFC 100 to anchor this article. It's always nice to see my archive work getting used from time to time.

Anyways, here's hoping that Brock makes a full recovery and gets to square away against Shane Carwin soon enough.

Sunday, 25 October 2009

Almost come full circle

I can't begin to tell you how much I'm looking forward to getting back to the MEN Arena for UFC 105; not just because of the fight card itself, but also because it's where I shot my first ever UFC event - UFC 70, back in April of 2007.

Many years had passed from the day that I first saw UFC 1 on VHS. As a contributing photographer to the agency Camera Press, I received regular emails detailing what events of note were happening in the UK - mostly centered around the London scene, but occasionally further afield.

I was a little surprised to see that the UFC was still going strong as I had stopped training in martial arts about seven years earlier. Curious as to what the modern incarnation was, I asked my agency to credential me to the show. I booked my rail ticket and a B&B on the outskirts of the city, not knowing what was in store for me.

Suffice to say the event was a trial by fire for me. Believe it or not, this was my first time shooting MMA and it was very challenging. I learned some harsh lessons quickly and, to this day, I'm surprised that I got any material worth filing. Still, it was such a rush that I was instantly hooked on the sport!

Well that's enough rambling. Here for your enjoyment are some of the (very few) gems that I nailed that night.

Edilberto de Olivera vs. Paul Taylor
Taylor def. de Olivera, TKO (strikes), 0:37 R3

Jess Liaudin vs. Dennis Siver
Liaudin def. Siver, submission (armbar), 1:21 R1

Alessio Sakara vs. Victor Valimaki
Sakara def. Valimaki, TKO (strikes), 1:44 R1

Junior Assuncao vs. David Lee
Assuncao def. Lee, submission (rear naked choke), 1:55 R2

Terry Etim vs. Matt Grice
Etim def. Grice, submission (guillotine choke), 4:38 R1

Cheick Kongo vs. Assuerio Silva
Kongo def. Silva, maj. decision, 5:00 R3

Michael Bisping vs. Elvis Sinosic
Bisping def. Sinosic, TKO (strikes), 1:40 R2

Andrei Arlovski vs. Fabricio Werdum
Arlovski def. Werdum, unanimous decision, 5:00 R3

Gabriel Gonzaga vs. Mirko "Cro Cop" Filipovic
Gonzaga def. Filipovic, KO (head kick), 4:51 R1

Note: I'd like to say that I've put up this shot of Mirko "Cro Cop" looking bewildered after his KO loss for its emotional content in lieu of an 'action' shot from his fight against Gonzaga, but the truth is... I missed the headkick KO on account of sheer stupidity.

Towards the end of the round, Filipovic was pressed up against the cage, grounded, with Gonzaga in full mount, raining down a seemingly endless barrage of elbow strikes. Whilst some slipped through, Mirko was managing to deflect most of them. Referee Herb Dean decided that the action had stalled and stood the fighters up.

I knew the round was close to an end but I wasn't sure how many seconds were left. I dropped my camera away from my face, turned my face to look at one of the big screens to check the round time and then "THWACK"; a big, wet, meaty thump of noise which I felt more than heard. Snapping my head back round, I saw Filipovic crumpled on the canvas, his ankle twisted at an odd angle beneath him. I raised my camera and tried to focus on the downed Croatian, knowing all too well that I'd just missed a brutal and spectacular KO.

The big screens quickly replayed the action and I was forced to watch what I missed; the slow motion showed Gonzaga's leg extending, Filipovic tucking his elbow in to his midsection (expecting a kick to the ribs, no doubt) and then having his lights turned out as the Brazilian's left foot caught him square on the skull.

So the lesson was learned: I'd never again take my eyes (and camera) off the action, no matter what was going on.

Saturday, 24 October 2009

Starter for 10

The old phrase of "better late than never" applies; whilst I've been tardy in getting a blog off the ground, I figured that now is as good a time as any - especially when the next few weeks will see a flurry of photo related activity.

What's on the menu for the next month? Well obviously the main event is UFC 105 at the MEN Arena on November 14; I'll be down for the "fight week" activities from the 11th right through to the night of the fights themselves, shooting as usual for ESPN.

That said, MMA is not all I shoot.. hard to believe, huh? Some other choice events I'll be at are
  • The 2009 Scottish Style Awards - October 31
  • The BAFTA Scotland Awards 2009 - November 9
  • Nordoff Robbins Tartan Clef Awards 2009 - November 27
... plus the occasional live music shoot, celebrity do and so on.

I'll be tweeting as I go and you'll get some other updates from me on Facebook too.

Should you be going to any of these events, drop me a line or keep an eye out for me on the night.