Steven Marrocco of MMA Weekly shouted as I rolled into the UFC media center at the Mandalay Bay Event Center, “Road warrior!” and I looked up and laughed, but I couldn’t think of myself as a warrior. I just do my job, my job happened to be back-to-back shows this week. After uploading the Strikeforce gallery around 5 am, I slept for two hours, shoved all my lights into their respective cases, hopped on an early shuttle to the airport in the most awkward quiet ride ever, then got on a plane at 11 am Central, arrived in Vegas at 1:30 pm Pacific, made my way to the Mandalay Bay via Taiwanese cab driver (we conversed about the motherland, Los Angeles), dropped my luggage in Ariel Helwani’s hotel room after trying two different floors and e-mailing him for the info (lost his number), wolfed down the late lunch, found my photo position “Octagonside” and started shooting by 4:50 pm. As tired as I was, the fighters have the toughest job of the night and they had to train to get there, I just show up with my cameras. Plus, how awesome is that, two consecutive nights of fights!
I’m behind a post, but I don’t mind too much since at least I’m cageside. The photographer to my right claims it’s the worst position ever, then looks at me and says, “Nevermind, yours is the worst.” I shrug and smile. I make do, I always do. At least, I’m one away from Paul Thatcher of FIGHT! Magazine, one of my favorite photographers, who keeps me entertained with his own accented play-by-play of the night’s events and music selection. By the way, the music at UFC events is loud, teeth-chattering loud. I looked around between fights and found many women in sequined dresses, shaking ass. It’s certainly a party.
I shot for AOL Fanhouse, and so did Casey, backstage with his video camera. You all can look up how the fights went but I’ll just say, I underestimated Caol Uno’s ability to neutralize Camoes’ standup, called Marcus Davis vs Ben Saunders, yes Koscheck got poked in the eye, I liked Dan Hardy’s Ben Sherman shirt (not just because Casey was sporting a similar Brit outfit) and love that he’s into selling a fight, and Baroni is a tough dude, as is Amir Sadollah who I think was uppercutted maybe a dozen times in the first round. Illegal blows were the theme of my weekend as at Strikeforce, there were also several point deductions throughout the night for knees to the head (and some for elbows but that’s just Strikeforce). I think perhaps Anthony Johnson needs to figure out some kind of goggle system, because he’s a magnet for eyepokes. And I wish I had a photo of this, but even Koscheck found Tito Ortiz’ repetitive ‘heart and soul’ speech at the post-press conference boring, and was mouthing blah blah blah until I raised my telephoto lens to shoot him doing so.
Fanhouse has a gallery over at their site (but some of the photos are cropped a little blandly, but hey, that’s news for ya) for more photos of each bout, so here’s a small selection of my favorites including a few from the only untelevised bout, Uno vs Camoes (Camoes lost a point due to an upkick and it ended in a draw).