There is a moment before the fight when the rhythmic sound of warm-up punches and nervous chatter dissolves into a quiet stillness.

This moment only lasts a second or two. No one in the room says anything. There is nothing else to say.

Everyone knows what is about to happen. Months of intense training, sacrifice, pain, and fear will explode in a fury of disciplined aggression: A beautifully brutal storm of ugliness and heart.

 They know that when it is over, the two fighters will stand in the cage, naked in their victory or their defeat. Each knowing the implication of the outcome: that had it not been for the rules, an instrument of mercy that stopped the fight, one could have killed the other.

This is Mixed Martial Arts – the fastest growing sport in North America.

Fight Journal profiles a group of professional and amateur fighters from the Pacific Northwest. The images, captured with a 35mm digital camera, explore the drive, discipline, and dedication of the individuals that are the heart of this sport.


© Adam Smith. 2012