An exciting and history making night as Mixed Martial Arts returned to New York City on a professional level for the first time since 1995 with the first fight of industry leader UFC in NYC for #UFC205. The evening was led by the main event of Conor McGregor taking on Eddie Alvarez attempting to be the first fighter in the history of the UFC to hold on to two belts in two different weight classes.
For me it was an opportunity to hang out with the photographers of the UFC and see what they do and how they do it and how I could help them do their jobs as well as possible. It was a chance to say hi to all the the fight photographers that covered the fight. And it was a chance to make some photos with my D5 and 500 FL in the "World's Most Famous Arena" Madison Square Garden.
I'll start by saying this - shooting UFC is hard. The cage, the ref, the remote video camera's that move into your shot, and the cage (yes, I said that twice) make it a very challenging sport to shoot. If the fighters are in the right place at the right time you can get lots of dynamic action shots. If not...well you don't.
The week started with me visiting the UFC crew over at the hotel where the fighters and event were based out of - I brought over some of the latest gear and watched them in action. I got to shoot a few portraits of fighters over the shoulder of the UFC photographers (great bunch of guys and talented shooters). One of the fighters I got to shoot was luckily Conor McGregor.
The portraits were shot with the D500 at ISO 3200 and the Nikon 105 1.4 but at only 1/125th of second and slower (the two belt shot is 1/30th as the lights were turned down for that). I would obviously prefer to shoot a faster shutter speed than that or with the lights but this was available light since I was over the shoulder and not actively shooting the session. The image of the car outside the hotel was just a part of the insanity that is the Conor McGregor circus. Who rolls around NYC in a Rolls Royce with their face painted on it? Conor does. Who backs up all the talk? Conor does. He was super polite and brought energy with his swagger to the photo session just like he does his fights.
As Saturday rolled around I met up with the team at MSG and made sure everyone was settled with gear etc and then took my place high up above the octagon.
By now you know that Conor lived up to his words and knocked out Eddie Alvarez in the second round. He captured his second belt. He proved he is pound for pound the best fighter in the world. He energized the crowd at MSG. He proved MMA belongs in NYC. It was a quick fight but entertaining and the camera did what i wanted it to.
Great night - thanks Jeff, Mike, Brandon, Todd, and the injured Josh for letting me be part of it.