BILOXI, Miss. (WLOX) - At a time where millions around the globe are hungry for entertainment, the Ultimate Fighting Championship, better known as UFC, came to the sports world’s aide. On May 9th, UFC 249 kicked off the return of sports but without fans in attendance.
“Whether you’re participating in the event or whether you’re capturing it on a camera, the audience part brings energy,” Mike Filippi told WLOX.
WLOX marketing producer, Mike Filippi, was cage side in Jacksonville where the event took place. With 20 years of experience as a freelance UFC camera operator, Filippi described the fights’ atmosphere as eerie.
“When there’s a good kick or good punch, somebody gets out of a submission hold where you thought they were going to be done and they get out, that’s when the crowd roars. We’re like okay, oh wait no crowd,” Filippi recalled. "So it was almost a letdown. The crowd brings energy I’m sure to the fighters and honestly I think it does to the crew as well.”
The silence actually benefited the fighters as they could hear the commentary from broadcasters, which allowed them to make adjustments on attacking their opponent in the cage. Filippi had to adjust as well when communicating with crew members.
“It was unusual because everyone was wearing masks. Everybody was taking precautions and the typical thing with a mask is it’s hard to understand each other, so we like take it down and ask a question and put it back up," Filippi said.
"In our headset we hear our director and we hear the announcers and we don’t hear anything else. This past week, it was unusual in that we heard everything.”
Like the fighters in the octagon, Filippi has a passion for what he does, but because of COVID-19, it’s unclear as to when he’ll shoot his next sporting event. \
“It’s something I love to do. Oh you’re going to give me a camera? I get to use a camera? That’s how I’ve been my whole career here at WLOX and freelance," Filippi expressed. “I just love shooting. So, to not do it, it’s going to hurt.”