Nickelodeon has people getting slimed with goo. The UFC has people getting splattered with blood. Our favorite shooter Esther Lin recounts her evening in Abu Dhabi and it marks the first time she’s gotten hit with fight juice (although there have been close calls in the past):
For the first time in the three and a half years I have been covering MMA, I was splattered with blood while cageside. It has never happened before and I was thrown right into it. As DaMarques Johnson sliced his elbow into Brad Blackburn’s face I had no idea that seconds later (well, maybe I had a really bad feeling) Johnson would be punching Blackburn against the cage right in front of me and Blackburn’s blood would audibly fly off his body and squish onto me (also making a gross, faint sound), still warm, and well, it smelled like blood.
This is the moment, less than half a second before the blood hit me. Actually, you can see a few out of focus drops make their way out the cage at me.
If it wasn’t right above my eye, my right eye, to be exact — since that’s the one not covered by my viewfinder, I probably could have continued, and I did for a few seconds. Shooting while muttering, “Eh, shit, there’s blood on me.” But the subsequent shots were blurry, so I turned to look for a cutman or doctor. Fellow photographer Martin McNeil helped me locate one and it took a few seconds before he understood what I was asking him for, then I wiped off my face with a torn bit of towel before coming back to miss the arm raise.
Fans in the crowd gave me the thumbs up as I wiped my face.
Joe Silva, UFC matchmaker, even came up to me afterward to relate a similar story but one much gorier and to assure me that UFC fighters are thoroughly tested and that I did not have “the AIDS.” That’s actually comforting. But it didn’t stop me from having the feeling I’d wiped a little into my eye because it kind of stung all night.