It isn’t until you have the opportunity to sit in a room with some of the UFC’s finest fighters, that you realize that they aren’t simply octagon combatants, but instead people whose job just happens to involve punching other folks in the face (and/or avoiding being punched in the face). It’s fairly easy to disconnect the humanity from the warrior while you watch the fights from the comfort of your living room, but when you hear a former title contender get choked up talking about that special moment when he walks back through his front door and the warm reception he gets from his family, it instantly re-humanizes them. No longer are they just an MMA practitioner, but a proud dad, who wants nothing more than to set a good example, and ensure his kids are proud of him.
While there was plenty of fight talk on Friday afternoon at the Halifax Marriott Harbourfront Hotel, it was those more personal details that would creep into the conversation. To hear Derrick “The Black Beast” Lewis talk about his appreciation of a nice Pinot Grigio, or UFC newcomer Gavin Tucker talk about his mom leaving Newfoundland for the first time in order to see him fight on Sunday night, it warms your heart, and gives you a better appreciation for the athlete who is walking into that cage.
The majority of the fighters seemed gregarious and open to the questions being lobbed at them; one fighter in particular had a bone to pick with a rather well-known media outlet, and after a lengthy glare proceeded to put the particular reporter on blast. Needless to say, it quickly became frosty in the room. After a few more questions, which received far warmer reception and responses, it was time for the initial photo-op face-offs. Walking into the room to photograph and participate in the media scrums, I was unsure what to expect, but in looking over my notes and photographs, the most interesting tidbits were those smaller more personal details that emerged from these talented folks, who just happen to punch people in the face for a living.