Author and photographer of the internationally published coffee table book, Into the Cage: Rise of UFC Nation (Random House/Macmillan). A literary take on a sport tracing its roots back to the Olympic Pankration tournaments of Ancient Greece, highlighting the beauty in the brutality. Extensive media tour.
... but even more thrilling is a moment the entire arena shares: when the undercard fights end, the lights dim, murmurs sweep the darkness, and as the tension stretches just so, the trill of synthesizer melody cuts through and the velveteen sea erupts. Every time, no matter how many events you attend, no matter how exhausted or hung over you feel, your forearms pock and your gaze arcs skyward.
It’s hard not to equate this ritual with some sort of modern religion. More Mao than Billy Graham, but still— the arena as cathedral; ten, fifteen thousand united in collective ecstasy beneath those Blade Runner monitors. Sure, Dana White is an avowed atheist, but even this song—most think it’s “Teenage Wasteland,” but the real title is “Baba O’Riley”—was penned by Pete Townshend in homage to his spiritual guru, Meher Baba.
These religious undercurrents infuse the moment, and I often imagine a peasant right then zapped from the Dark Ages to now—no comprehension of electricity, much less recorded music or pixels—but he knows fighting, and staring up at these giant humans battling in the sky, I’m sure he’d scream with the throng and figure shit out later.