UFC 117 in Oakland doesn’t Disappoint

I have had a very busy summer filled with baseball and lots of various auto racing. It has all begun to get very redundant so I was super excited when I was hired by ESPN.com to cover UFC 117 in Oakland. The last time I shot UFC in Las Vegas it was super fun and I got lots of great photos so I was highly motivated to replicate my previous performance. Fight, fight, fight!!!

For the fights my goal was to get ESPN images within 3-5 minutes of shooting them. With only a few minutes between fights it would be impossible for me to do it without help.

Luckily for me I had super editor Kyle Terada with me to take care of all the editing and allow me to focus on (get it?) the action!

Below, you can see Kyle in his editors chair which just happened to be next to the UFC ring girls….. tough work conditions eh?

Ok on to the fights.

First up where the undercard fights so here are some highlights.

Below, Dennis Hallman (top) lays atop Ben Saunders as they fight during the welterweight bout in UFC 117 at the Oracle Arena.

Nikon D700, 80-200mm, 1600iso, f2.8, 1/1000th, Manual

Below, UFC fighter Dennis Hallman (left) and Ben Saunders land punches at the same time during the welterweight bout in UFC 117 at the Oracle Arena.

Nikon D700, 80-200mm, 2000iso, f3.2, 1/1000th, Manual.

Christian Morecraft (top) puts Stefan Struve in a bad position during the heavyweight bout in UFC 117 at the Oracle Arena.

Nikon D700, 80-200mm, 2000iso, f2.8, 1/800th, Manual

Blood always makes for cool photos so I liked the below frame of UFC fighter Todd Brown as he sees stars during the light heavyweight bout in UFC 117.

Nikon D700, 80-200mm, 2000iso, f2.8, 1/800th, Manual

UFC fighter Johny Hendricks (below) celebrates his victory during the welterweight bout in UFC 117.

Nikon D700, 80-200mm, 2000iso, f2.8, 1/800th, Manual

The next fight up involved a huge fighter, Phil Davis, who came out in hot pink shorts to go along with his nickname “Mr. Wonderful.” When you have a name like that and you are wearing pink you sure as hell better kick some ass.  And kick some ass he did!

UFC fighter Phil Davis (top) goes acrobatic as he tackles Rodney Wallace during the light heavyweight bout in UFC 117 at the Oracle Arena, below.

Nikon D700, 80-200mm, 2000iso, f2.8, 1/640th, Manual

Nikon D700, 80-200mm, 2000iso, f2.8, 1/640th, Manual

Below, UFC fighter Phil Davis (top) fights Rodney Wallace during the light heavyweight bout in UFC 117 at the Oracle Arena.

Nikon D700, 80-200mm, 3200iso, f2.8, 1/1000th, Manual

The below two frames of Phil Davis had some awesome light so I included both…

Nikon D700, 80-200mm, 3200iso, f2.8, 1/1000th, Manual

Nikon D700, 80-200mm, 3200iso, f2.8, 1/1000th, Manual

Below, UFC fighter Phil Davis (pink shorts) lands a punch on Rodney Wallace during the light heavyweight bout in UFC 117 at the Oracle Arena.

Nikon D700, 80-200mm, 3200iso, f2.8, 1/1000th, Manual

UFC fighter Rick Story (left) prepares to punch Dustin Hazelett as he plays a turtle on his back during the welterweight bout in UFC 117 at the Oracle Arena.

Nikon D700, 80-200mm, 3200iso, f2.8, 1/1000th, Manual

Hazeletts lay on the ground fighting technique didn’t seem to work very well as Story would end up sitting on him (below) and beating the hell outta him!

Nikon D700, 80-200mm, 3200iso, f2.8, 1/1000th, Manual

Nikon D700, 80-200mm, 3200iso, f2.8, 1/1000th, Manual

Below, UFC fighter Rick Story celebrates a TKO against Dustin Hazelett (not pictured).

Nikon D700, 80-200mm, 3200iso, f2.8, 1/1000th, Manual

Before the live pay per view portion of the fight was to began I hauled ass up the stairs to shoot an overall photo of the octagon surrounded by the rowdy fans, below.

Nikon D700, 24-70mm, 2000iso, f2.8, 1/125th, Manual

One of my favorite fights of the evening was a heavyweight bout between Junior Dos Santos against Roy “Big Country” Nelson, below.

Nikon D700, 80-200mm, 3200iso, f2.8, 1/1000th, Manual

The below photo is probably my favorite image of the night with UFC fighter Roy Nelson (right) landing a sweat exploding punch to the forehead of Junior Dos Santos.

Nikon D700, 80-200mm, 3200iso, f2.8, 1/1000th, Manual

Even though I have been shooting for 20 years now I still seem to learn something every time I shoot. My lesson on this day was to not have my phone sitting too close to the cage. Check out the drop of blood on my blackberry (below). Lovely….

Nelson gave Dos Santos a hell of a fight (below) but he would end up losing the fight on a decision following the three rounds.

Nikon D700, 80-200mm, 3200iso, f2.8, 1/1000th, Manual

Below, UFC fighter Matt Hughes catches a thumb to his eye during the welterweight bout in UFC 117.

Nikon D700, 80-200mm, 3200iso, f2.8, 1/1000th, Manual

As I have previously mentioned, I am still really new to UFC but one fighter I really enjoy shooting is Clay Guida. With his wild hair and his all over the ring fighting style Guida makes it very easy to get cool pics.

Below, UFC fighter Clay Guida (white shorts) kicks Rafael Dos Anjos during the lightweight “swing” bout in UFC 117 at the Oracle Arena.

Nikon D700, 80-200mm, 3200iso, f2.8, 1/1000th, Manual

Guida (left) swings for the face of Rafael Dos Anjos (black shorts) during the lightweight “swing” bout in UFC 117 at the Oracle Arena.

Nikon D700, 80-200mm, 3200iso, f2.8, 1/1000th, Manual

After easily beating Rafael Dos Anjos, Guida let out a scream as he ran around the ring celebrating, below.

Nikon D700, 80-200mm, 3200iso, f2.8, 1/1000th, Manual

Not sure why but former rapper MC Hammer was in attendance, below.

Nikon D700, 24-70mm, 2500iso, f2.8, 1/250th, Manual

Below, editor Kyle Terada and I pose for a photo at his ringside editing position.

Below, in the second to the last fight of the evening UFC fighter Jon Fitch (white shorts) lifts Thiago Alves (red shorts) during the welterweight bout in UFC 117 at the Oracle Arena.

Nikon D700, 80-200mm, 3200iso, f2.8, 1/1000th, Manual

A big screen showing the fight kinda made a good background as UFC fighter Jon Fitch (left) takes a swing at Thiago Alves, below.

Nikon D700, 80-200mm, 3200iso, f2.8, 1/1000th, Manual

Here are a few more images from the bout.

Nikon D700, 80-200mm, 3200iso, f2.8, 1/800th, Manual

Nikon D700, 80-200mm, 3200iso, f2.8, 1/800th, Manual

After Fitch took the win on a decision it was finally time for the main event of the evening between Anderson Silva against outspoken challenger (and huge underdog) Chael Sonnen.

Below, Sonnen points to Silva while talking smack prior to the beginning of the fight.

Nikon D700, 80-200mm, 3200iso, f2.8, 1/1000th, Manual

Many people, myself included, expected it to be a quick and one sided fight…….boy were we all wrong!

Below, Anderson Silva (right) lands a nice kick to the stomach of Chael Sonnen during the middleweight title bout in UFC 117 at the Oracle Arena.

Nikon D700, 80-200mm, 3200iso, f2.8, 1/1000th, Manual

The fight soon became all about Sonnen as he took Silva to the mat and began beating the hell outta him, below.

Nikon D700, 80-200mm, 3200iso, f2.8, 1/800th, Manual

Nikon D700, 80-200mm, 3200iso, f2.8, 1/800th, Manual

After the second round, Silva (below) looked like a scared puppy following the second round.

Nikon D700, 80-200mm, 3200iso, f2.8, 1/800th, Manual

Im not exactly sure what is going on in the below photo but I think it just recently became legal in California….

Nikon D700, 80-200mm, 3200iso, f2.8, 1/800th, Manual

Below, UFC fighter Chael Sonnen (top) puts the choke on Anderson Silva during round four of the middleweight title bout in UFC 117 at the Oracle Arena.

Nikon D700, 80-200mm, 3200iso, f2.8, 1/800th, Manual

Below, UFC octagon ring girl Arianny Celeste lets the crowd know the fight is heading to the fifth and final round.

Nikon D700, 24-70mm, 2500iso, f2.8, 1/400th, Manual

With Sonnen having won all four previous rounds on the judges scoring cards he seemed to be a few minutes away from a massive upset. All he needed to do was not screw up.

Below, Sonnen got off to the good start he needed by taking Silva to the mat, below.

Nikon D700, 80-200mm, 3200iso, f2.8, 1/800th, Manual

By the below photo it looked as if the fight was just about over for Silva…..

Nikon D700, 80-200mm, 3200iso, f2.8, 1/800th, Manual

Until he pulled a massive triangle choke out of nowhere on Sonnen, below, which led to a tap out.

Nikon D700, 80-200mm, 3200iso, f2.8, 1/800th, Manual

Following the victory Anderson Silva hopped to his feet and began to celebrate, below.

Nikon D700, 80-200mm, 3200iso, f2.8, 1/800th, Manual

Below, a dejected Chael Sonnen was left on the mat to wonder what if…

Nikon D700, 80-200mm, 3200iso, f2.8, 1/800th, Manual

Below, actor Steven Seagal leaves his ringside spot following the fights.

Nikon D700, 80-200mm, 3200iso, f2.8, 1/320th, Manual

Following the fight I headed to the post fight press conference to blast off a few images.

Below, UFC president Dana White takes questions from the media.

Nikon D700, 50mm, 800iso, f1.4, 1/320th, Manual

A happy Anderson Silva smiles as he is interviewed…..

Nikon D700, 80-200mm, 3200iso, f2.8, 1/250th, Manual

…..while a sad and beat up Chael Sonnen looks dazed and confused as he fields questions about his almost win.

Nikon D700, 80-200mm, 2500iso, f6.3, 1/200th, Manual

That wraps up a fun and exciting night of fighting for me. Can’t wait till next time…. whenever that may be.

To keep up with all the wild and crazy events I shoot be sure to add me on Facebook.

Here are some web clips from the fight:

4 Responses to “UFC 117 in Oakland doesn’t Disappoint”

  1. Nice blog write-up, Mark: good to see that ESPN are being allowed cageside editors / transmit techs once more :)

    Quick facts: MC Hammer is now an MMA manager under the name Alchemist Management. He’s already got quite a few fighters signed. Steven Segal was there as he was recently hired by Anderson Silva as part of his fight camp in the run-up to 117… go figure.

    Anyways, always good to see your take on the action – here’s hoping it won’t be such a long break before you shoot another :D

  2. Jenn says:

    Great Blog Mark- so jealous you got to shoot UFC, but at least they got a great photographer to shoot it. Love the pictures :) and that is barely any blood on your phone..come on now!

  3. DPC says:

    Great photos as always Mark! I’m curious about your lens selection and why you went with the 80-200 vs. the 70-200?

  4. Keith says:

    I’ve been working on improving my photography skills for a while now. Sports photography is definitely one of the areas I would like to be in, especially in MMA.

    Was there any requirement to be able to shoot ring side? Any pointers on how to get into such events as a photographer?

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