The second ever UFC Fan Expo has closed its doors on what will be another huge success and they will re-open in Boston this August. You do not know what it’s like at a UFC EXPO until you finally walk through the doors and enter a completely different world. A world that can be canvassed time and time again yet there seems to be something new to see each time. One so big that things would happen yet you need to watch the news later that night to see what you missed out on that day. For those not fortunate enough to have been able to enter this world here is a glimpse through the eyes of a first timer.
Walking towards the back of the Mandalay Bay the people slowly went from smoking gamblers to beach wearing men and women to a sea of fight fans sporting their favorite brands. You enter the long walkway towards the EXPO and large signs point us towards our final destination. The voices of fighters and MMA personalities get louder and louder with each step taken. Finally reaching the EXPO the doors, the fun inside beckons you to enter but I must leave them momentarily to find the back of the line.
In line the sheer number of people in front of me is insane and can only be topped by turning around to see the line that has now amassed behind me. The noise is deafening from the large screens playing the Classic fights, showing trivia and replaying the UFC 114 countdown repeatedly. The line is moving in rows in front of me yet we are still standing waiting for the ripple to eventually reach us. We are moving now and the excitement begins to increasingly build with every new row I enter until the home stretch and land in front of the Expo doors again.
Once inside, the floor consisted of a nice mixed of everything one could think (apparel/gear) plus many you wouldn’t expect (Golf, motorcycles etc.). To say its overwhelming is not giving it justice because when you walk in, there are booths 180 degrees around you from wall to wall. Music, UFC highlights and voices fill the room and talking to the person next to you was challenging. The booths ran from front to back of the expo with the middle area holding an octagon, there was about 10 rows in all. All the way in the back is where the massive UFC booth was and along the wall the Expo Autograph sessions took place. To the right back is where the grappler’s quest took place and to the left was the stage area where they held the Q & A’s, Hall of fame inductions and more.
Getting around the EXPO I found myself wondering around aimlessly when I attempted to find specific booths. It was actually much easier to just walk the floor row by row hitting each and every booth desired. That plan was occasionally brought to a standstill though when certain fighters were signing at booths other then the official EXPO ones. Two examples of this was Randy Couture and Georges St. Pierre who attracted such a mob that security guards were involved and walking past that area was near impossible. The beauty of the EXPO is that at any given moment there were several fighters walking the floor or sitting at smaller booths all willing to talk, shake your hand and give you an autograph.
What more could a Mixed Martial Arts fan desire then this… how about getting to do it all over again the next day!