(Photographer unknown. Level of badassery incalculable.)
For this installment of the CagePotato Roundtable, we invited a few of our photographer buddies over to discuss our all-time favorite MMA photos. Judging by our selections, shots of agony and defeat have a special attraction to them. I think it’s because they allow us to get close to an incredibly intense, transcendent moment, without having to experience the pain of it. And isn’t that why we love MMA in the first place? Our special guests for today are…
- Lee Whitehead, author of Blunt Force Trauma & The Mammoth Book of Mixed Martial Arts. You can see more of his work at www.leewhitehead.com, on Instagram, and on Twitter @leewhiteheadmma.
- Jon Sluder, who shot Bellator 34 for us back in October 2010. Check out his recent highlights at Sluder.net.
- Jason Wright, who shot UFC 119 for us back in September 2010; if you follow us on Facebook, you recently saw one of his highlights from that night. You can see more of J-Dog’s work at jasonwrightphotography.com.
Disclaimer: There’s a short list of MMA photographers who have asked us to stop posting their work on this site due to copyright issues, and a couple of contributors to this week’s column happened to select photos taken by those photographers. We’ve used stand-ins in those cases, with links to the actual photos. Also, we don’t know why BJ Penn is so heavily represented in this column. The guy always seems to be in the right place at the right time.
(Click image for larger version.)
I have many favorite photos from all the years shooting MMA but this one has to rank amongst the very top purely because of all the flack and accusations of photoshop manipulation with the blood spurt; professionals can spot a ringer, and this ain’t one. The disappointing thing is that all negative comments detract from our main strength as MMA photographers — to understand the sport, spot smaller nuances, read the timing, and capture a key defining moment in a fight. To me, this brief slice of time from UFC 80 serves as the perfect reminder of how dominant BJ Penn was in his prime.