B.J. Penn gets knocked into retirement at UFC 137

A few months ago my editor from ESPN.com called to see if I would be available to go to Vegas to shoot a UFC fight. A quick glance of my calendar showed the weekend was already booked for an NHRA shoot…. that just happened to be in Vegas! The wheels in my head quickly turned and I figured out that I would be able to do both the shoots. It would make for quite the tiring (and stressful) weekend.

In the middle of shooting NHRA qualifying on Friday I had to leave early (and put my second photographer in charge of covering NHRA) and haul ass over to the Mandalay Bay to shoot the weigh ins for UFC 137 with the main fight being between B.J. Penn and Nick Diaz. Having shot Nick Diaz in action a few months prior I knew it would be an exciting matchup.

Weigh ins are typically pretty boring with each fighter being weighed and then posing face to face for the media.

First up was Nick Diaz, below.

Nikon D700, 70-200mm, 4o00iso, f3.2, 1/500th, Manual

Followed by B.J. Penn, below.

Nikon D700, 70-200mm, 4o00iso, f3.2, 1/500th, Manual

Pretty exciting stuff, eh guys?

The only reason I think ESPN even has their photographers cover the weigh ins is in case of a rare brawl.

You could absolutely see the intensity between the two fighters as they stood toe to toe to pose for the media, below.

Nikon D700, 70-200mm, 4o00iso, f3.2, 1/500th, Manual

Apparently Diaz’s forehead got a little too close to Penns face and the fighters started to scrap, below.

Nikon D700, 70-200mm, 4o00iso, f3.2, 1/500th, Manual

The only thing I believe saving them from an all out street fight was UFC president Dana white intervening.  Damn!

Ok on to fight night.

Before the main fight there were several undercards to take in. Here are some highlights from the various fights.

Below, Clifford Starks (right) punches Dustin Jacoby, sending beads of sweat into the air, during a middleweight bout at UFC 137 at the Mandalay Bay event center.

Nikon D3s, 70-200mm, 3200iso, f2.8, 1/1000th, Manual

UFC fighter Francis Carmont (right) kicks Chris Camozzi during a middleweight bout, below.

Nikon D3s, 70-200mm, 4000iso, f2.8, 1/1250th, Manual

Below, Ramsey Dijem (top) puts a choke on Danny Downes during a lightweight bout during UFC 137.

Nikon D3s, 70-200mm, 4000iso, f2.8, 1/1600th, Manual

I liked the below shot of fighter Eliot Marshall as he takes a quiet moment in prior to entering the octagon for a light heavyweight bout.

Nikon D3s, 70-200mm, 4000iso, f2.8, 1/1000th, Manual

Below, Brendon Vera (right) blocks a kick from Eliot Marshall during a light heavyweight bout during UFC 137.

Nikon D3s, 70-200mm, 4000iso, f2.8, 1/1250th, Manual

Marshall (right) throws a punch and kick at the same time to Vera, below.

Nikon D3s, 70-200mm, 4000iso, f2.8, 1/1600th, Manual

The winner for most photogenic hair had to go to Bart Palaszewski (below) who rocked a bright pink mohawk for his bout against Tyson Griffin.

Nikon D3s, 70-200mm, 4000iso, f2.8, 1/1600th, Manual

Below, Dennis Siver (right) tries to block a kick to the head by Donald Cerrone during a lightweight bout during UFC 137.

Nikon D3s, 70-200mm, 4000iso, f2.8, 1/1600th, Manual

Here is another cool shot from their fight, below.

Nikon D3s, 70-200mm, 4000iso, f2.8, 1/1600th, Manual

Here are a few overall shots taken from up in the crowd during a break in the action, below.

Nikon D3s, 70-200mm, 4000iso, f2.8, 1/250th, Manual

Nikon D700, 24-70mm, 5000iso, f2.8, 1/160th, Manual

UFC ring girl Arianny Celeste makes her popular walk around the octagon between rounds, below.

Nikon D700, 24-70mm, 3200iso, f2.8, 1/1000th, Manual

Below, George Roop (left) lands a punch to the face of Hatsu Hioki.

Nikon D3s, 70-200mm, 3200iso, f2.8, 1/1600th, Manual

Then it would be Roop trying to rip of Hatsu Hioki’s head, below.

Nikon D3s, 70-200mm, 3200iso, f2.8, 1/1600th, Manual

Here are two more shots from the Roop vs Hioki fight…

Nikon D3s, 70-200mm, 3200iso, f2.8, 1/1600th, Manual

Nikon D3s, 70-200mm, 3200iso, f2.8, 1/1600th, Manual

Light shines off the chain link fence of the octagon between fights, below.

Nikon D3s, 70-200mm, 3200iso, f2.8, 1/320th, Manual

Below, in what was probably my best fight of the night for photos, here are several shots from the matchup of Scott Jorgensen (left) against Jeff Curran.

Nikon D3s, 70-200mm, 3200iso, f2.8, 1/1600th, Manual

Nikon D3s, 70-200mm, 3200iso, f2.8, 1/1600th, Manual

I love the below photo from the fight as you can just barely see the eye of Jeff Curran as Jorgensen put him in a colorful headlock.

Nikon D3s, 70-200mm, 3200iso, f2.8, 1/1000th, Manual

Nikon D3s, 70-200mm, 3200iso, f2.8, 1/1250th, Manual

Nikon D3s, 70-200mm, 3200iso, f2.8, 1/1250th, Manual

Nikon D3s, 70-200mm, 3200iso, f2.8, 1/1250th, Manual

The gnarliest beard of the evening award had to go to Roy Nelson, below.

Nikon D3s, 70-200mm, 3200iso, f2.8, 1/1600th, Manual

Below, UFC fighter Roy Nelson (top) punches Mirko Cro Cop in the face during a heavyweight bout during UFC 137 at the Mandalay Bay event center.

Nikon D3s, 70-200mm, 3200iso, f2.8, 1/1000th, Manual

Having shot Roy Nelson once before I knew that if he won he would put on a good (and funny) celebration. Thankfully he did, and he did…

Nikon D700, 24-70mm, 3200iso, f2.8, 1/1250th, Manual

I’m pretty sure he is getting close to his third trimester.

Nikon D700, 24-70mm, 5000iso, f2.8, 1/640th, Manual

When shooting UFC, the most difficult thing about it is dealing with shooting through the chain link fence. The first few fights I shot I hated the fence in the shots but now I have come to the realization that sometimes the fence in the shot can add to the grittiness of the sport.

Here is an example of a shot where I think the fence adds to the feel of the photo as UFC fighter Cheick Kongo raises his hand to the cheering crowd, below.

Nikon D3s, 70-200mm, 3200iso, f2.8, 1/1250th, Manual

Below, Cheick Kongo (left) prepares to kick Matt Mitrione.

Nikon D3s, 70-200mm, 3200iso, f2.8, 1/1250th, Manual

When you try and shoot through the cage with a really wide lens it really illustrates the challenges us photographers face when we shoot UFC.

Nikon D700, 24-70mm, 3200iso, f2.8, 1/800th, Manual

Ok time for the main event. Diaz vs Penn

Nick Diaz would be the first one to enter the octagon, below.

Nikon D3s, 70-200mm, 3200iso, f2.8, 1/640th, Manual

He would be followed by B.J. Penn as he is led to the octagon under the bright spotlight, below.

Nikon D700, 24-70mm, 3200iso, f2.8, 1/640th, Manual

As a photographer I always hope that the main fight goes as many rounds as possible to give me the best shot at getting several good photos to keep my editors happy.

Below, B.J. Penn (left) takes a swing at Nick Diaz.

Nikon D3s, 70-200mm, 3200iso, f2.8, 1/1250th, Manual

Early in the fight it looked as if Penn had a chance at winning as he would take Diaz down to the mat and hit him with a barrage of punches…

Nikon D3s, 70-200mm, 3200iso, f2.8, 1/1000th, Manual

…shortly after that though it would be Diaz taking over all the momentum of the fight.

Nikon D3s, 70-200mm, 3200iso, f2.8, 1/1000th, Manual

In the below photo you can see the shockwave of skin moving as Diaz landed a decent punch to the face. It almost looks like Penn is scared by the look in his eyes….

Nikon D3s, 70-200mm, 3200iso, f2.8, 1/1000th, Manual

…a few punches later and you could no longer see the fear in his eye as it swelled shut.

Nikon D3s, 70-200mm, 3200iso, f2.8, 1/1000th, Manual

Below, while he may have been getting beat up, Penn was far from giving up as he still landed some solid hits to the face of Diaz.

Nikon D3s, 70-200mm, 3200iso, f2.8, 1/1000th, Manual

But for every punch Penn landed I would say Diaz landed two or three.

Nikon D3s, 70-200mm, 3200iso, f2.8, 1/1000th, Manual

Nikon D3s, 70-200mm, 3200iso, f2.8, 1/1000th, Manual

And that is exactly why it would be Diaz taking the convincing win.

Nikon D3s, 70-200mm, 3200iso, f2.8, 1/1000th, Manual

The beating Penn took must have been bad as he announced his retirement in the ring before dejectedly being escorted from the octagon surrounded by law enforcement officers.

Nikon D700, 24-70mm, 5000iso, f2.8, 1/400th, Manual

That wraps up UFC 137. Can’t wait till my next fight…. whenever that may be!

I have a Facebook page devoted my photography where I routinely share my favorite photos from each shoot as well as favorite photos from the past. Click the below banner to check it out. Be sure to “like” the page so you can be kept up to date on all the events I am doing!

2 Responses to “B.J. Penn gets knocked into retirement at UFC 137”

  1. SteveCwk says:

    Great stuff!

    High iso and so little noise. Part camera part post process?

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