How to Guide: Getting the Most out of a UFC Fan Expo

Saturday, September 11th, 2010 by Tony Reid

1. Meeting Fighters- Here is a piece if advice from your uncle Tony. (Veteran of 10 plus live UFC Events, many smaller MMA Shows and numerous expos, conventions, etc.)  If you have your heart set on meeting one of the mega stars of MMA (think Chuck, Randy, Brock, etc.) then get your ass to that line bright and early and prepare to spend half of your day in said line waiting to see your idol.  For example, if they are scheduled to sign at 2pm, be there before noon, probably before 11am.  That will ensure you a great chance of meeting them and the experience will be one you remember forever, congrats!  I have pictures hanging in my home office of me with Randy, Dana, Anderson, Tito, Wand, etc. that will hang there until the day I die, so trust me when I tell you, I understand your passion.  If you are more of a quantity over quality guy, then my other piece of advice might suit you as well.  If you are looking to get pics, autos and meet fighters in general, my advice would be, quite literally, just hang out.  Do laps around the expo, shop, play with toys, go to the bathroom to redo your faux hawk ,and if you keep your eyes open and know what you are looking for, you will run into 90% of the guys you were going to wait in lines to see just walking around the convention floor. Our first day at the UFC Fan Expo in Boston, I waited in line for a grand total of 5 minutes and we met Stevenson, Bader, Punkass, Skrape, Barry, Condit,  Mezger, Cote, and Schaub among others.  I saw a number of fighters walking around between their scheduled autograph sessions where they were totally approachable and more than willing to stop and meet even more fans.  It’s all about timing and knowing your surroundings.

2.  Scoring Free Stuff- It all starts with a little bit of information and preparation.  If you pick up your free Official Expo Program it will lead you to the promised land of free goodies.  It lists among other things, a floor plan, and alphabetical list of exhibitors and most importantly for you (cheap skate) the expo specials where it lays out for you what great companies are offering for free or a reduced rate at the expo.  There are flat out freebies for the early birds( free Topps trading cards, free t-shirts, free Cazadores margaritas, etc.) contest and raffles (Again, who wouldn’t want to win a pair of Jonathan Goulet signed gloves from Headrush?) and gifts with purchase( i.e. if you spend $1,000 you get a free key chain).  But lets not forget the most important freebies of all…it doesn’t cost a penny to get the opportunity to meet the greatest fighters in the world!

3.  Getting into After parties- I know, I know, after every big win the first thing you hear from most fighters when being interviewed by Joe Rogan is where the after party is located.  I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but on the East Coast, there are no after parties!  There I said it, it’s shocking but true.  Trust me when I tell you this, I have been there first hand at many East Coast UFC Events from UFC 88 in Atlanta where many fighters were hanging out at McDonald’s after the fights because, well, it was one of the very few places open.  I was there with my buddy Tim Boetsch, who had Monty Cox along for the ride.  We were standing in line next to Kurt Pellegrino waiting for our Big Macs.  I later saw Matt Brown eating there with his crew so I spoke to him for a few minutes and he said something to the effect that he generally doesn’t eat like this after a fight…just funny stuff.  I was in Philly at UFC 101, in New Jersey at 111, in Boston at 118, and a few others that I’m forgetting at this point but yeah, there is very little in the line of after parties on the East Coast, mostly due to the fact that all bars, etc. close around 2am and the event is usually over around 1:30am, so it doesn’t allow much time to get your groove on.  On the West Coast, it is a whole different story when the fights are over at 10pm and the bars and clubs are basically open all night.