I was asked to photograph the XFE Cage War #26 at Harrah’s Casino in Chester, PA that took place last Saturday evening. I had been apprehensive about the assignment for a few weeks. I don’t watch events where people beat each other up on television. I don’t particularly like the sight of blood or pain, and I have no idea why anyone would want to harm another human being.
I learned a lot Saturday night.
I learned that there’s much more to cage fighting than violence and giant amounts of testosterone. I saw young men overcome fear, practice a discipline, hone skills, develop their art form, be good sportsmen, and call upon inner strength. For people who used to think like I did before I saw it, MMA or Mixed Martial Arts fighting is profoundly deeper than what it is glorified as on television. Just like NASCAR is more than driving in circles, like playing the piano is more than pushing the correct keys, like writing a novel is more than putting words on a piece of paper, cage fighting is much more than two people beating the crap out of each other.
I had to watch closely what was happening at all times. I was there to capture it and share it with the world that wasn’t there. I was stationed on the floor about 3 feet below the elevated cage. I leaned across an eighteen inch wide catwalk that encircled the entire ring. My lenses were often pressed against the cage and I shot through the holes when I could. Athletes crashed and pounded into the iron inches from my face as I clicked away. I could feel the heat from their bodies, hear their gasps and grunts, smell their fear and see their determination.
They say a picture is worth a thousand words, and I hope mine bring you a closer, more intimate look at these pugilistic warriors. I never turned away while I photographed the fights because I could see the emotions that flooded out of these competitors with every move.
Long live the fighters!
My pictures from the event are on the Independence Sports Magazine website: XFE Cage War #26