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The Figure of Fighting – MMA Through a Unique Lens

Jacob Klensin is a documentary portrait photographer from Philadelphia that for the previous two years has been building a project entitled, The Figure of Fighting. The project takes a uniquely intimate look at the world of competitive fighting, particularly MMA exploring not just the sport, but the people behind it. He attempts to not only show their actions, but their emotions, and the high level of dedication, and heart that goes into being a professional fighter.

His unique eye, and stylistic approach attempts to show beauty in what many see as brutish, and expose a whole new audience to a frequently misunderstood sport. And for those of us that already understand and appreciate the sport, it shows it to us in an entirely new way. His work has taken him to legendary gyms, photographing everyone from casual students, to the absolute elite of the sport.

It will now take him half way around the world where he will capture Muay Thai at its best. He will spend one month in Thailand, training and photographing at a small number of locations and hoping to fully capture the experience of Thai fighters much like he has been able to do with MMA fighters here in the States. He is aware that to do this properly, much more time is needed and hopes this trip, is just the beginning of an ongoing effort to explore the homes of the many disciplines that make up modern combat sports.

His work can be seen at “” and he will be posting new content and writing about his experience throughout the trip. Check back here for updates and new photos as they come through. If you have comments, or suggestions, want to know more about the project, or just want to let him know what you think, he can be reached at A small number of images from The Figure of Fighting can be seen here, and more direct from Thailand will be coming soon.

Check out some of Klensin’s work below:


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