Before Anderson Silva attempts to defend his title for the second time against Chael Sonnen tonight (July 7, 2012) at UFC 148, which goes down at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada, the UFC Fan Expo kicked off yesterday (July 6, 2012) in full force.
Hundreds upon hundreds (if not thousands) of mixed martial arts (MMA) fans hit the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino to enjoy the festivities and a chance to meet and have their picture taken with their favorite combat sports fighters or have their favorite memorabilia item signed to display in their homes.
A Who's Who of top MMA stars from both the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) and Strikeforce ranks were in attendance. Chuck Liddell, Heavyweight champ Junior dos Santos, Cain Velasquez, Wanderlei Silva and Ronda Rousey, just to name a few, were on hand signing autographs and smiling for the cameras until their cheekbones tapped out ( cheesy, I know).
Aside from all the top MMA stars on hand, hundreds of vendors were on hand displaying their latest products ranging from the latest nutritional craze from BSN and your favorite MMA apparel such as Bad Boy and Tapout.
I was on hand, which would be my third expo, first as a media member, to take in all the action and the atmosphere was electric and buzzing ahead of this weekend's much-anticipated title fight between "The Spider" and "The American Gangster."
Follow me after the jump to see what went down on day one of the UFC Fan Expo from "Sin City."
Prices to get into the expo ranged from $40 all the way up to $2,500 if you wanted to splurge for the Ultimate UFC VIP Package, which included a one hour head start from the rest of the fans, as well as a straight shot to the front of the lines that could save you hours of standing and waiting just to get a photo op as well as the chance to hang on the VIP lounge with UFC stars.
My first stop was with our good friends over at the Round 5 booth who were displaying their latest handy work with three UFC Fan Expo Exclusives in the form of UFC President Dana White figure complete with UFC and WEC belts and Donald Cerrone UFC and World Extreme Cagefighting (WEC) edition, which were limited to 500 each ever made and are only exclusively available to buy at the Expo. These were truly a hot item as fans were lined up an hour early just to get their hands on these bad boys.
Life-size Bruce Lee statue, as well as a sneak peak at Round 5's latest figure, Alistair Overeem PRIDE edition:
Bruce Lee got his very own Round 5 line, as well:
No Expo would be complete without a nice ride:
Cain Velasquez was at the BSN booth meeting fans for a few hours:
Anthony Pettis sharing a laugh with a fan:
Johny Hendricks took time to stop for a quick pose for the camera:
The lines were long each way, up to an hour wait for certain athletes:
It's never to early to start advertising, sneak peak of UFC 151: Jones vs Henderson event poster:
Alistair Overeem was in the house:
UFC Heavyweight champ Junior dos Santos stares down an (un)lucky fan:
as does "The Prodigy" B.J. Penn
"Cowboy" couldn't make it from one booth to the next without being swarmed by fans:
One lucky young fan with the Head Rush girls:
Yes, that's former Octagon girl Edith LaBelle:
or test on the latest video games:
"The Natural" Randy Couture took a break from Hollywood to visit the expo:
You don't want to see "The Axe Murderer" angry:
But deep down, he is a swell guy:
and still, the lines continued to grow by the minute:
just a few of the attendees:
the "Badass" girls were more than happy to pose for a photo:
I leave you with a few shots of the Srikeforce women's Bantamweight champion Ronda Rousey at her Q and A, ironically with a huge UFC logo behind her...a little foreshadowing, maybe?
That is all for today Maniacs, makes sure to check back for Day Two of the UFC Fan Expo, which will include a little Grapplers Quest action, some more happenings from around the event and of course, some more shots of beautiful women in scantily clad clothing.