Before Anderson Silva attempts to defend his Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Middleweight title against Chris Weidman tonight (July 6, 2012) at UFC 162, which goes down at MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada, the UFC Fan Expo kicked off yesterday (July 5, 2012) in full force as part of the second-ever International Fight week.
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 items signed.
A "Who's Who" of top MMA stars on the UFC roster were in attendance. Chuck Liddell, Heavyweight champion Cain Velasquez, Wanderlei Silva and women's Bantamweight champion Ronda Rousey, just to name a few, were on hand to sign autographs and pose for amateur paparazzi.
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, Tapout, Fighter's Only Punishment Athletics and more.
I was on hand to take in all the action and the atmosphere was absolutely electric and buzzing ahead of this weekend's much-anticipated title fight between "The Spider" and "All American."
Let's take a look at some of the action from Day 1, shall we?
Prices to get into the expo ranged from $45 all the way up to $1,500 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 (green room) with UFC stars.
And the fans were out since 7 a.m trying to get in as soon as possible (doors didn't open until 10 a.m.).
Round 5 MMA Collectibles wasn't officially in the house, but its presence was felt thanks to Walkout Wear, one of their distributors, who had the latest creation from the Canadian-based company, which included five Expo-exclusive figures.
The champ is here!
Dan Hardy happy to stop and oblige a fan.
Company president Dana White answered fans questions for over an hour.
Every UFC poster ever made!
She then takes on Anthony Njokuani in a game of "Street Fighter."
A game she loses.
But, a defeat can't wipe that smile away.
The heavyweights got in some ground work.
Rener Gracie was on hand giving eager students some tips on the art of jiu-jitsu.
What kind of mileage do you get on that thing?
Mauricio Rua prepares for the onslaught of autograph requests.
At least he had some nice scenery in the foreground to look at in between breaks.
Wanderlei Silva poses for the fans.
The Headrush girls.
Mark Coleman and Wes Sims pose with "The Hammer's" Pride FC Grand Prix belt.
Bad Boy wasn't choosing sides in the title fight between the Brazilian Bomber Silva and "All American" Weidman.
Anthony Pettis signs his own figure.
Former champions and UFC Hall of Famers Chuck Liddell and Matt Hughes answered fans questions.
Wrestling got a little bit of love at the Expo, too.
The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) 18 promo.
That's it for today. Tune back in tomorrow for more coverage of the UFC 162 Fan Expo 2013.
Enjoy the fights!