The North American Mixed Martial Arts Expo: A Fan's Perspective

Bryan StoneContributor IDecember 2, 2007

IconOn Saturday, December 1, I attended my first NAMMAE North American Mixed Martial Arts Expo at the Anaheim Convention Center.

I wouldn't have even known it was coming to town if I hadn't created a Google Alert for "MMA."

I looked at the website and noticed that several of my favorite fighters were going to be there, as well as some vendors and brands that I'm interested in, so I had to go.

Upon entering the Expo hall, I was impressed with the work that must have gone into putting all of the booths together. Don't get me wrong—it's not like CES, where there are million-dollar booths—but this is an industry that is still in its infancy. Each vendor did a great job displaying their brand and products.

I'm very interested in this industry, as I think it has the greatest potential for exponential growth of any sport in the world today. As with every industry, MMA is not only comprised of various promotional organizations. There are fitness apparel, nutritional supplements, gym equipment, and training centers that all stand to gain from the exposure that a show like this offers.

A few of the highlights of the day were Extreme Couture's booth, where Randy "The Natural" Couture sat, signing autographs and striking a pose with his many fans. I'm sure he had the longest line of fans for the day.

The other big draw for the day were Tito Ortiz and his Punishment exhibit. Tito showed up to greet a long line of fans which had been waiting over an hour to meet him.

The Tapout crew was also in attendance. The motor home, made popular by their hit TV show, was perfectly positioned in the corner, right across from the food vendors. The line was so long you had to stop for a snack.

I got my photo with many of my favorite fighters. A few of these were Brandon Vera, Mike Swick, Jon Fitch, Joe Stevenson, Gray Maynard, Mark Coleman, Don Frye, KJ Noons, Tyson Griffin, and Diamond Dallas Page.

http://i48.photobucket.com/albums/f248/nablurz/IMG_0197.jpgAlthough he's not an MMA fighter, I was happy to meet Diamond, and I have to say, he was a wonderful dude. He spoke with me as if we were old buddies that had been out of touch for awhile. I was very impressed with him.

Another unexpected highlight was my conversation with Lisa "The Black Widow" King. She was one of the representatives attending the Fatal Femmes Fighting booth.

http://i48.photobucket.com/albums/f248/nablurz/IMG_0184.jpgShe got my attention with her stunning features.

However, I soon realized there was so much more to them then just a pretty face.

With all of the women dressed in some of the shortest shorts and skirts I've ever seen, I think there must have been a “How Trashy Can your Booth Girls Be” Contest going on.

Lisa, along with boothmate and 120-lb champion Lisa Ward, was far from trashy. They were lovely, intelligent, engaging women.

http://i48.photobucket.com/albums/f248/nablurz/IMG_0195.jpgAlso, the FFF is quite possibly the largest promotion for women's MMA in the world. They've got approximately 30 women fighting under their promotion and I'm sure more are on the way.

Lisa King is also one of the stars of the new TV show Fight Girls airing on the Oxygen network. It's the closest thing to a female version of The Ultimate Fighter, which airs on the Spike Network.

Lisa is also doing her best to build the FFF brand and is a very talented trainer and commentator too. She is friends with former training partner Gina Carano, who recently began training at Extreme Couture after getting started under the tutelage of the great Master Toddy.

Before I left the show, I had to wait in line for one of my favorite fighters. "Dangerous" Dan Henderson

http://i48.photobucket.com/albums/f248/nablurz/IMG_0200.jpgDan had flown into LAX that afternoon and drove to the show as fast as he could to sign autographs and pose for pictures with the many fans that attended.

I bought a Team Quest shirt and was exited to get a picture with him too. Team Quest is a great camp and they are developing some of the best fighters in the world.

The last thing I did was audition to be in the upcoming movie "Owned," produced by Owned Entertainment.

I read for the role of Eric, a manger of fighters. I was nervous, but did my best. The Owned crew were great and had a great attitude about making this movie.

I think it's fantastic to see MMA make its way onto the big screen. Having grown up watching black-and-white Jackie Chan movies in Chinatown and doing my best to keep up with the subtitles, I've seen it come a long way.