Birchak’s shining moment makes Sports Illustrated Photos of the Year

Dec 30, 2013
(PRESS RELEASE) -- A spectacular moment of championship glory has earned Anthony Birchak and the Maximum Fighting Championship a spot in the prestigious Sportsman of the Year issue of Sports Illustrated.

Poised on the ring ropes in celebration, Birchak’s captured image is prominently displayed as one of SI’s Photos of the Year.

“Absolutely surreal,” said Birchak. “I got a Facebook message from someone I haven’t talked to in four years telling me I’m in Sports Illustrated. I was thinking not that long ago that I’ve done a lot in my career so far but I was still waiting for that ‘A-ha!’ moment. This is definitely that kind of moment.”

The photo was taken at MFC 38 when Birchak capped a tripleheader of title fights by winning the MFC world bantamweight championship with a second-round submission of Tito Jones. His spot in Sports Illustrated’s Photos of the Year puts him alongside such world-renowned notables as Olympic and World champion sprinter Usain Bolt, Masters champion Adam Scott, and Dave Bolland, who scored the 2013 Stanley Cup winning goal for the Chicago Blackhawks. It's the only mixed martial arts picture featured.

“Anthony became well-known in the MMA world in 2013 but this is something that puts him on the map in the real world of sports,” said MFC Owner/President Mark Pavelich. “I’ve read Sports Illustrated all my life and for an MFC fighter to be in it and as part of the Photos of the Year, that is just an amazing accomplishment.”

Photographer Amber Bracken was perfectly positioned at ringside to capture the image, though at first, she thought she may have missed the moment.

“I remember being disappointed Anthony Birchak didn’t turn my way when he was celebrating but I guess the photo turned out anyway,” said Bracken. “I was pretty surprised when a friend told me it made the SI Sportsmen of the Year edition. It’s not too often you see Edmonton events represented like that. The whole thing is pretty cool.”

Bracken’s work initially appeared in the Edmonton Sun and throughout the QMI Agency chain of newspapers and websites. Sun photographers are well-regarded for their sports acumen though being in Sports Illustrated is certainly a crowning achievement.

“We are proud that one of our top sports pictures produced in a great sports town like Edmonton was featured on the world stage that Sports Illustrated offers,” said Tom Braid, Photo Editor of the Edmonton Sun.

Birchak, who recently earned the MFC Fight of the Year for 2013, is expected to make the first title defense of his bantamweight crown at MFC 40.

Tickets for MFC 39: No Remorse, taking place at the Northlands Expo Centre in Edmonton, Alberta, on Friday, January 17 are on sale now at as well via the MFC Ticket Hotline by calling (780) 504-2024.


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