What's cracking, Maniacs? Sergio Hernandez here, reporting from the UFC 136 Fan Expo in Houston, Texas.
Before the big fights tomorrow (Oct. 8, 2011), headlined by Frankie Edgar defending this lightweight title against Gray Maynard, I'll be swimming through the throng of people and rubbing elbows with countless mixed martial arts (MMA) personalities.
The Fan Expo started back at UFC 100 and essentially gave MMA fans an opportunity to spend two days getting autographs and snapping photos with some of their favorite fighters while also allowing various companies -- sponsors and otherwise -- a chance to hock their wares.
Without further adieu, let's get down to the wackiness I managed to get myself into today.
But first things first, I met "Screwston's" Paul Wall. That was pretty cool!
If you haven't been to a Fan Expo, I can honestly tell you it's a little overwhelming at first. There is a lot of stuff going on all at the same time.
When I first got to the George R. Brown Convention Center, I checked in and got my media badge before heading to the main floor. I decided to just walk around at first to absorb some of the atmosphere.
From watching UFC VHS tapes by myself in junior high to what I witnessed firsthand was a bit of a shock to my system. Never in a million years did I think I would get to experience anything like this.
After making my way around the floor one time, I stopped by the Xbox Live booth to check out their new UFC programming feature. I was walked through it and I have to say, it's pretty damn impressive. What fans will be able to do from the start of the service is cool enough, what the guys at Microsoft have planned for the future is even more exciting. MMAMania.com will have more of an in-depth feature on that tomorrow morning so keep an eye out for it.
Next, I was introduced to the co-owner of Hayabusa Fightwear (thanks to Tom, best boss ever) and we spoke about a new line of training gear designed by the late Shawn Tompkins. The famous striking coach teamed up with Hayabusa prior to his untimely passing. A full rundown of that product line will be hitting Mania in the next few days.
Afterward, the Hayabusa guys asked me if I wanted to try out their "punching bag machine." It was like your standard punching game you'd see at a bar, but it was hooked up to actual bags.
I took on one of the Hayabusa guys even though I knew I was going to embarrass myself. Thankfully, I'm pretty sure he took it easy on me.
A victory for Sergio!
I was introduced to Dana White's favorite reporter, Ariel Helwani, and made small talk about professional wrestling. What blew my mind was the amount of people walking up to him and asking for photos.
I ran into fellow Dallas-native Anthony Njokuani and briefly caught up with him. He and his lady recently had a baby so I congratulated him on that. My friend and I got to try out UFC: Undisputed 3. We randomized our fighters and I ended up with Quinton Jackson and he played as Cyrille Diabte. Needless to say, "Rampage" scored a brutal second round technical knockout.
After that, I wandered around some more and took some pretty pictures before heading to the weigh-ins.
Some Grapplers Quest action.
Just one of many exercise and training booths throughout the Expo.
Former WEC Bantamweight Champion Miguel Torres
Don Frye and his amazing mustache with a lucky fan.
Strikeforce women's bantamweight champion Meisha Tate signing autographs for fans
Sean Sherk spotting!
And finally, the lovely THQ girls!
Hope you Maniacs enjoyed the photos. I'll be back tomorrow with more coverage from the Expo and UFC 136 itself.