My week at Strikeforce: Fedor vs Rogers began with a visit to Soldier Field for the Chicago Bears vs Cleveland Browns game with the main event fighters, then sightseeing around Chicago with The Last Emperor and his posse. Side note: Fedor is marketed as this stoic, formless warrior, but he’s very much a joker and seemed to have fun aimlessly touring about the city.
Monday, Fedor and his group set off the smoke alarm with the incense from their ceremony. Two days later, I shot behind-the-scenes while the Showtime feature crew shot openings with the fighters in the water treatment facility for a mental hospital. On my way there, the driver didn’t know it was the boiler building with the smokestacks and dropped me off at the check-in for the insane asylum, thankfully, I knew right away I was in the wrong place and hopped back in the van.
Wednesday, open workout at POW. Thursday, press conference and studio.
Coming into this week, I was nervous. CBS. Great card. Casey was there too, for AOL Fanhouse. The infamous drive failure. But by Thursday’s crunch, I was in the beat again and things moved as usual, a speeding machine, a little clunky, but a machine, nonetheless.
Friday brought the EA MMA press conference and the weigh-ins. The weigh-ins were packed and the seats were cramped very close to the stage, the front row of photographers were a little grumpy, well, just one — so when it got really busy, I forgot to turn around and take a photo of the whole place so you all could see how many fans showed up. It was exciting. But the line for the public was routed right in front of the fighter/media entrance. I entered with Mousasi and we got mobbed so that Mousasi couldn’t get in, there were so many fans asking for autographs and pictures. Everything went as Strikeforce weigh-ins usually go except with the fight order reversed, and me getting worried that Casey would be late, as the seat saved behind me was still empty and it was time to begin. After weigh-ins, I went down to the floor to take a peek at Mayhem’s rehearsal.
Fully intending to eat, workout, and sleep early to fuel up for fight night, I went out to dinner with coworkers instead and then stayed up all night posting photos of the week’s events all over to get all my friends excited about watching the event. That nervous feeling returned as I was now tense for the results of each fight, having met and taken portraits of every fighter on the card.
Waking early, I ate whole wheat french toast dipped in bran flakes on Roxanne Modafferi’s recommendation. It was stupendous. I tried in vain to nap after the meal, but went to take a look at King Mo’s ‘I Am a Fighter’ shoot, then tagged along and shot Mayhem getting his hair dyed. Crashed back into the hotel room for 45 minutes of sweet sleep then hopped up, grabbed all my equipment and hopped in for the short ride to the Sears Centre.
After sharing some sliced pineapple with Marloes Coenen in passing, checking out my post and testing, meal, shooting fighters prepare in their locker rooms, and doing my pre-fight deep breath, it was time. When undercard fighter Jonatas Novaes and Christian Uflacker stood across from each other, fight night began. At the height, I was jumping off my photo-position, trying to get around Russians rushing the cage to get in to congratulate Fedor Emelianenko, I snuck in from the other side and felt the group follow me into the cage, and a collective joy and sadness enter as I passed Brett Rogers being wiped down by the cutman, head shaking in disappointment. The sound of that punch. The roar of the crowd. At the end, at a table in the lobby of the Marriott, listening to Mayhem listening to people coming by to console him behind me. A mustache party crashed through. A wedding part next to us left a giant plate of random desserts. I stumbled back to my room and continued to make selects for the event gallery. Around 5:30 am, I crawled into bed and woke up a few hours later or maybe a few minutes, and continued. Packed up. Came home.
Here is a gallery of my favorite images from the week including my favorite studio shots: