Photo Essay

The Cage Fight

Cage fight

The atmosphere of this night club has changed. Instead of people swarming the dance floor under vibrant lights dancing to the fast-paced music, it has become dark and gritty. Music is playing, but is different from the norm of the club. The crowd seems to have the desire to be macho. The air is filled with testosterone blended with the stench of beer and whiskey. Naturally, nobody is dancing to the music. But if anyone wants to, there is not even a space to do so. Instead of the dance floor, there sits an elevated wrestling ring, surrounded by a chain-link cage. The night's event: mixed martial arts and kickboxing inside a cage in the centre of the club.

With the rising popularity of Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) being featured by pay per view on big screen TVs at local bars and clubs, the mixed martial arts and kickboxing athletes of Saskatoon are trying to raise their own popularity by hosting live fighting events for fans of the underground sport. They want to host events at higher-capacity locations, but there is no support from the venues, so the local fighters have to settle for smaller bars and clubs.

The first order of business of the night is to introduce the ring girls. Prior to gracing the ring, these bikini-clad young women, barely legal to be in the bar, are constantly looking in the mirrored wall to ensure their make-up and hair are immaculate for the crowd. They take sexy photos of each other, until the time comes to strut around the ring holding a giant sign over their head that indicates which round the fighters are about to begin. The predominantly male crowd hoot and holler at the ring girls, who love the attention but don't even hold a smile on their face as they walk around the ring.

The fighters are introduced as they walk through the audience to the cage with their theme music blaring to get the adrenaline flowing. After a quick check from the referee, the two opponents square off. Vicious grappling leads off the match, which quickly spreads across the ring until one fighter exploits an opportunity, landing the first punch or kick. Fighting goes on until the round time expires or until one of the fighters is knocked out, laying on the mat.

It was an interesting event to witness and photograph. Knowing nothing of the sport, I had a fresh perspective. The bar was very dark, aside from the cage which had some uneven lighting. Access was good, as I could go all around the outside of the ring. I only covered three matches, since the writer (of the article for the newspaper) was my only means of transportation and wanted to leave. However, if there is another event like this happening again, I definitely want to cover the whole thing and even try to get behind the scenes.

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