14 May - 
MMA SQUARED: The Year in Fighting: 2019, part 2

2019 has been packed with good fights. Some have added to fighters’ legacies, some have announced the arrival of a new player on the scene. Check out part 2.

The Year in Fighting: 2019 is a book that I am illustrating while concurrently writing & illustrating MMA Squared. It’s a more sober, artistic endeavor about what happens inside the cage, letting go of the hype trains, PR disasters, and marketing angles. Let’s look at part 2.

This is not only part 2, but also page 2 of the physical book, and I realized that the 3” x 3” format that I’d been working in had some limitations. For one I was cropping the fights’ limbs too often, and their faces weren’t always visible. To address this I started working in a larger, landscape orientation, and added portraits alongside the fight scenes.

Marlon Moraes chokes out Raphael Assuncao to declare himself the number one bantamweight contender. I sat down anticipating a tactical battle that could easily go five rounds and Moraes absolutely eviscerated Assuncao with my favorite MMA finish, the Club n’ Sub.

MMA Squared, Chris Rini, The Year in Fight: 2019, Marlon Moraes, Raphael Assuncao Chris Rini

MMA Squared, Chris Rini, Marlon Moraes Chris Rini
Marlon “Babyface” Moraes

Cody Garbrandt vs Pedro Munhoz

MMA Squared, Chris Rini, Cody Garbrandt, Pedro Munhoz Chris Rini

I was going to make portraits, then how about make the fight scene deviating as much from human physiology as possible? Go all out to convey the chaos of the punching exchanges as well as Cody’s “gameplan.” Cody has no semblance of defense as Munhoz’ weaving overhand right is about to seal the deal.

MMA Squared, Chris Rini, Cody Garbrandt, Pedro Munhoz Chris Rini

At about this time I realized that the book’s color scheme was too all over the place. I didn’t want to adhere strictly to skin tone & background colors because the UFC’s production style is pretty unremarkable (to make room for all the advertising logos). So I started experimenting with these thumbnail sketches of Tim Means collapsing to the ground after being knocked out by Niko Price.

MMA Squared, Chris Rini, Tim Means, Niko Price Chris Rini

You’ll see variations on this minimalist palette, which is based on Renaissance drawings show up more in parts three and four this week. Thanks for reading. I hope you enjoyed this look behind the scenes. I run a pay-what-you-want Patreon which will have regular updates from the book. Take care of yourself and I’ll talk to you tomorrow.

Chris