Thomas Gerbasi, UFC - Tuesday night, the UFC took over Manhattan, as the world-renowned Barneys on 660 Madison Avenue played host to the launch event for the soon-to-be released book by Reed Krakoff, “Fighter: The Fighters of The UFC”.
Tuesday night, the UFC took over Manhattan, as the world-renowned Barneys on 660 Madison Avenue played host to the launch event for the soon-to-be released book by Reed Krakoff, “Fighter: The Fighters of The UFC”.
In attendance among a host of celebrities from the art, fashion, and entertainment world, including Mandy Moore and Gina Gershon, were some of the Octagon’s finest competitors – Rashad Evans, Jon Fitch, Kenny Florian, Rich Franklin, Dan Henderson and Matt Serra - as well as UFC President Dana White.
“It’s a different event than what I’ve done before,” said Henderson, taking a break in New York City before kicking off training camp for his January bout with Franklin. “It’s more of a social setting, so it’s more fun because you actually get to socialize with everyone.”
“It’s great that people are starting to take notice, and that’s a beautiful thing,” said number one light heavyweight contender Evans, whose picture was blown up and placed in Barneys’ display windows and in its men’s department. “We’ve got great fans, they’re learning about the sport, and they’re excited about it.”
And plenty of people are excited about “Fighter”, a project conceived and implemented by Krakoff, an accomplished photographer whose day job sees him serve as the president and executive creative director of Coach, a brand that is among the most respected in the fashion world. Krakoff is also a committed fan of the UFC, and when the opportunity arose for him to shoot 33 UFC fighters for his book, he jumped at the chance. But the pictures that fill the pages of “Fighter” aren’t your typical fight shots, as these portraits were taken with a medium format Mamiya box camera that adds a unique look to the black and white photographs, one that captures the essence of these athletes.
“It was really unexpected,” said Evans after seeing how the project developed. “When I took the pictures, I was just like ‘all right, let’s take some pictures.’ But the photographer took some great photographs, the way they put the book together was brilliant, and it’s a great project that I’m happy to be a part of.”
What makes “Fighter” even more significant is that a portion of the proceeds from the book will be donated to the Yellow Ribbon Fund, which assists injured service members and their families while they recuperate at the Walter Reed Medical Center and the National Naval Medical Center.
“I’m excited to be a part of it,” said Henderson. “I think it’s a good opportunity for everybody and to give back to people definitely helps.”
And after years of being on the outskirts of the sporting world and simply struggling to survive, an event like this shows just how far mixed martial arts and the UFC have come. But Henderson, who made his pro debut in 1997 and is one of the handful of active fighters who competed in the sport’s dark ages, isn’t surprised at the growth of the sport and its acceptance as a legitimate part of the sporting culture.
“It was just a matter of time because the sport kinda sells itself,” he said. “Once people watch it, they’re hooked.”
For more information on “Fighter: The Fighters of The UFC”, click here.