I had the opportunity to photograph Simon Marcus defending his GLORY Middleweight Title against the very dangerous Dustin Jacoby at GLORY 30 (gallery is at the bottom if you want to skip my kickboxing nerd talk).
I was pumped to get to shoot two fighters getting ready for a big title fight. When I went backstage to get them warming up I was surprised to see that their locker rooms were right next to each other; both doors closed, for obvious reasons of comfort. I could hear the loud smacking of pads through the doors. Jacoby was listening to some 90's jock jams, while Marcus was listening to some 90's R&B. I wondered if each man was trying to hit the pads harder and louder to intimidate their opponent on the other side of the wall, psychological warfare could begin their match hours before they met in the ring. If I were one of them, I'd get my friends to hit pads after I was done warming up to create the illusion of a three hour continuous warm-up. Maybe hire Tong Po to kick a post non-stop, and maybe my opponents younger brother could walk in and see the display of toughness while he was lost, looking for ice (ex. see 1989 film Kickboxer). "HE WAS KICKING ONE OF DEES LIKE DEES-- HHHUUUAAAYYY, UNTIL PLASTER WAS FALLING DOWN!"
I usually would walk right into a fighters locker room to shoot their prep, but I decided to leave them to their own devices until they got the call to walk out. For some reason, they got the call at the same time and had to walk with each other down the hall up to the ramp. It made for a slightly awkward scenario, but luckily I got a shot of them emerging from their locker rooms and seeing each other for the first time that night. It felt like one of those "First Look" photos you see people do for weddings.
Jacoby was on a 5 fight knockout win streak coming into this fight. He has serious power in both hands and a deceptively long reach. For Simon Marcus to employ a hands-down and head movement style of defense was ballsy, to say the least. However, I will say that tactic plus Marcus' experience was what won him the fight. Jacoby was throwing very calculated heavy leather throughout the fight, and Marcus would dodge a majority of it but everytime he ate the really heavy shots, he would continue to slip and duck and dodge even if he was rocked, making the sting of the punch look less effective to the judges. At one point, he even did the Ramba M-16 shuffle after a particularly heated exchange. Marcus would set the pace of the fight with switch kicks to the arm, right leg kicks, and closed the gap with some nasty knees. Jacoby didn't appear to be any worse for the wear until the fifth round where a right kick from Simon Marcus snuck in under his elbow and found his liver. Jacoby dropped to a knee, barely made it up before the 10-count, and showed real heart trying to come back with a knockout for the rest of the final round. Simon Marcus was too experienced to have his belt taken away from him the last seconds and showed some beautiful techniques on his way to securing his first title defense. Backstage, the great Malaipet Sasiprapa was complimenting Simon Marcus on his masterful performance and Simon replied, "That's 'Muay I.Q."