Mixed Martial Arts
Photographing MMA events is an experience like no other. I have the privilege to be placed ringside, in front of the audience, and in front of the VIP section. I get to be as close as the judges are to the fight. The only people with a better view are the cameramen for the TV transmissions, and the referee himself.
Nicknamed "The Assassin", Fabian Edwards does make sure his fights are brief. Currently enjoying a 10-0 winning streak (5-0 professional, 5-0 amateur), only one fight has entered the second and third round each. The extreme high of a win, the triumph of beating your opponent is enormous, but also surprisingly short-lived. It's something Fabian has admitted to me is a shame and something a fighter has to get accustomed to. Unlike most sports, a fighter spends very little time in the spotlight inside the cage. You work hard to secure the next fight and opponent, you enter your training camp where you are not only training generally to improve your skills but also work specifically to target the strengths of your competitor. Months are spent in preparation for the fight, followed by press obligations, a week long weight cut, followed by the weigh ins and a final press conference. All for a maximum of 15 minutes inside the cage. So Fabian tries to take it all as it comes and enjoy the lifestyle of it, instead of becoming too obsessed with the fight itself.
Visiting Fabian in Birmingham at his gym, the amount of famous fighters casually walking around and training, was something I was unaccustomed to. Being fairly new to MMA, I am still finding out who all the big names are and still get surprised while reading MMA news sites or watching YouTube, when I recognize a fighter or coach I have casually talked to at a previous event or gym, realizing only then how famous they actually are in the MMA world.
Fabian would go on to win his next fight in the first round too, with a liver kick downing his opponent, followed by two strikes to the head. Unfortunately the strikes broke his left and, but his recovery is surprisingly quick, and he will be returning within four months.
Coming up to BAMMA 35, the weight cut went well for Fabian, but re-hydration is the key for any fighter. As we approached the ceremonial weigh ins and the press conference, Alex Lohore's entourage created a bit of a scuffle already. The tension in the room was ignited further by Fabian when he claimed during the press conference that Alex had turned down a fight against him, in essence ducking him. A verbal altercation ensued on stage, with more words following afterwards. Buddae Johnson, the ring announcer, was the only one there to keep the two apart. Something that he tried to cover up a with a big smile, later admitting though that he was happy that the situation remained fairly peaceful because he is not a fighter. I was lucky enough to get right up in the action and take the photos visible below. Was the situation a bit of strategy by Fabian to secure his next fight? Personally, after the outcome of the event, Alex is now on a two fight losing streak, I do not think that match up makes sense anymore.
The first time I saw Dominique Wooding fight was at BAMMA 34 in London. Aged only 21, he easily dominated his opponent Dominic Dillon and ended the fight with a TKO, when referee Marc Goddard decided to call the end of the fight in round 2 at 0:55, as seen below. Dominique still looking fresh, and Dillon showing visibly that he had been in a fight, with a rapidly swelling right eye.
After this fight, I visited his gym in London and got to document his fighting camp, while meeting all the great fighters and coaches in the gym.
He transitioned from being an excellent football player to becoming a fighter. He told his mother on the way home from a football match, where he scored a goal no less, that he didn't want to play anymore. His parents thought he was making a rash decision and that he was being silly. After all, with so much talent, why would you turn your back on that, especially for something as "barbaric" as fighting? Fabian's mother still can not watch any of his fights, not even at home on the TV, but he has the full support from his whole family.
Focusing predominantly on boxing and wrestling, Dominique spends most days of the week in the gym, that is within walking distance from his home. So much time and dedication is needed for this sport.