I've watched it on TV and followed it a bit online but I'd never actually attended a UFC® event, much less photographed one. I've photographed smaller caged fights before but none to the magnitude of this one. This was a so-so fight on paper but what went down became a historic event in the UFC.
The Ultimate Fighting Championship® was held on March 3, 2007, at Nationwide Arena, Columbus, Ohio. This was the first UFC event to hit Columbus and paired off with the Arnold Classic, it was a logical weekend to hold the event. The place sold out in less than 24 hours if that tells you anything.
Since I'd never photographed the event, I had to seek out press credentials.
They run a very tight ship at the UFC media office. After signing a couple pages of papers and submitting what my assignment was I awaited the word. I heard back in a timely manner that I was granted press creds and the info to obtain them followed.
The press pass could only be picked up the night of the event from 6-10pm and not before. Okay, no worries at least not now. My camera had broke a day prior and I was freaking out to say the least. I found a camera store, purchased a new camera and was all set for the UFC event.
I arrived around 8:30pm, received my credentials without any problems. The media staff was very friendly and helpful. I had no idea where I'd be sitting but they told me take the elevator and follow the arrows. A'ight - follow the arrows, got it. Up the elevator I go and followed the arrows - as I am following the arrows I'm thinking holy crap I am at the very top of the arena, what kinda pass is this?!
I find the press section and my assigned seat, thinking what the hell. How am I going to get any photos from up here? The two MMA fights I'd photographed before I was on the cage and a bit spoiled from being front and center.
I looked around and there were a number of people up there, so I figured it wasn't just where they put the schmucks. Well maybe it is but at least I wasn't alone.
Fortunately with my new camera and a decent sized lense, I was able to get right in the midst of the action. It actually turned out to be better being up higher as I didn't have to fight with positioning of other photographers and deal with shooting into the cage.
Enough of my babbles! ...on with the fights! I received a text message for IFBB Pro Michelle Adams telling me to get to work, which freaked me out as she could see me. I look around and saw the GNC girls sitting together enjoying the fights.
The atmosphere in the arena was insane. PACKED to the gills and not an empty seat in sight. This was definitely an atmosphere far different from that of a bodybuilding stage. There were a variety of people in attendance, young and old, men and women. Once the pay per-view started things really heated up.
The First Match Ups
In the first match-up Jamie Varner won by submission in the first round by tap out over Jasson "The Gizzard" Gilliam. The second match was decided by unanimous decision with Glieson Tibau over Jason Dent.
John Fitch went on to win by submission over Luigi Fioravanti with a rear naked choke hold in the third round. BAM, BAM, Matt "The Hammer" Hamil delivered a technical knockout over Rex Holman. Hamil remains undefeated. Poor, poor Babalu (Renato Sobral) lost in the second round by technical knockout from Jason Lambert.
This is where the action started intensifying. Rich Franklin had a HUGE fan base in the audience and he delivered for his fans by winning over Jason MacDonald. The referee stopped the match in the 2nd round as Franklin pummeled MacDonald. Drew McFedries came up short to Martin "The Hitman" Kampmann in the first round by a triangle choke. It's getting to be about 11:30 now and people are all amped up to see the title fight but we had to suffer through the Hughes/Lytle fight.
I swear watching old people go at it may have been as exciting as the Hughes fight. Matt Hughes would get Chris Lytle on the ground and deliver and elbow or two once in awhile but overall it was pretty uneventful. It provided some nice blood splatters on the canvas though.
The Title Fight
Around 12pm the main fight had arrived and the atmosphere of the crowd only intensified. Randy "The Natural" Couture was coming back to fight the reigning champ Tim "The Maine-iac" Sylvia.
Everyone pretty much counted Couture out of winning this match due to the size of Sylvia. Sylvia outweighed Couture by a good 35lbs and had a six inch height advantage on him. Randy came out swinging for the fences and when he landed a punch that sent Sylvia to the ground, it was on.
That was the deciding moment in the match. After that, Tim looked like a tank just puttering along and not doing anything. He didn't attempt any kicks and was pretty much just a big blob out there.
Randy went on to make history and capture the title. Tim had some excuse of being hurt to which the crowd booed excessively upon hearing it.
It was an awesome time and I'd definitely do it again. Anyone who gets the opportunity to attend a UFC fight should jump at the opportunity. It's easy to see why it is so popular, it's well marketed and you don't have to follow it to enjoy the atmosphere and experience.
When the fight let out all madness was out - 18,000 people pouring out at once with about 600 total cabs in Columbus. Ha-ha... yeah fat chance at catching a cab. I walked back to the hotel and began downloading photos before venturing out to meet up with friends. Check out the 200 + photos from the fight and let us know if you'd like to see more on UFC fights here at Bodybuilding.com.