Foreword from Dana White, UFC President
Ever since I can remember, I always loved fights. Whether it was sitting in front of the television watching boxing on Saturday afternoons when I was growing up or getting together with a bunch of friends to go to the arena to see a championship fight, there was nothing better than watching two fighters go toe-to-toe while matching wits and trying to prove who had the bigger heart.
To me, it was better than baseball, basketball or football, sports where you had teammates to help you out or take the blame when you lost. Fighting was a one-on-one sport, mano e mano, with no excuses. If you won, you took all the glory; you lost, you had no one to blame but yourself.
It was sport at its purest, but as the years went on, I saw boxing get engulfed and diluted by politics, in-fighting, and greed. I started to get disillusioned by the sport I loved, and it wasn’t until I met some athletes competing in a sport called mixed martial arts that the love of combat sports came back for me like it did when I was growing up.
In this sport, which combined the disciplines of boxing, wrestling, Muay Thai, kickboxing, and Jiu-Jitsu, I not only saw the future, but I saw the understated artistry that only true fight fans can appreciate. It’s something a lot of people can’t see, and I could never really put my finger on what it is, but when I saw Kevin Lynch’s photographs, I finally found something I could point to and say “that’s it. That’s what this sport is about.”
So when we at the Ultimate Fighting Championship decided to move forward with the book project that became Octagon, there was no question who would be the photographer. And while Kevin’s talent is obvious, his understanding of this sport and its athletes was another key factor in our decision, because let’s face it – not everyone is willing to look past the misconceptions about mixed martial arts and give it the fair treatment it deserves.
It’s been a long process to get to this point – for the UFC and for this book – but it was of the utmost importance to get it right, whether that meant unprecedented access to our events for Kevin, or having him capture our athletes at their most vulnerable, which was immediately before and after their fights. In combat sports, or any sport for that matter, vulnerability can be seen as weakness; but one look at the pictures in this book will show that behind the bruises and cuts and the defeated or triumphant eyes, there is strength. It’s what these athletes are all about, and let me tell you, it takes a special person to step into that Octagon and fight another man – it’s why I call our guys real fighters, and why many of them are like family to me.
Octagon captures everything that’s great about this sport, and it makes me a fan all over again. It also reminds me that even with all the traveling, business meetings, interviews, late hours, and time away from my family, I’m here because I love fights and the UFC, and I always will.
- Dana White