UFC Fan Expo Boston: Blow by Blow Day 2

Saturday, September 11th, 2010 by Tony Reid

We started day two by getting to the convention center at the actual time it was scheduled to open to see if we had just got lucky and missed a huge line the day before. There were more and longer lines, but it was not as bad as I had envisioned.  Our first stop was the Jakks/Round 5 area, but to no one’s surprise the exclusive chase figures were long gone.  In my little twisted mind, I had thought they might save half of the chase figures to release at the opening of the second day, as usual, I was completely wrong.  The Jakks representative that I spoke to said the GSP figure (limited to 500 pieces) had sold out in less than three hours on the first day.  Up next was the BSN booth where Anthony Johnson and Forrest Griffin were both making an appearance. The line for Johnson was surprisingly long. We turned around to see a good sized line at the Jaco booth where Rashad Evans was meeting and greeting fans.  As far as lines go, the longest line award for the weekend goes to…Chuck Liddell.  Big surprise there, right?  Shogun and Jon Jones definitely took an honorable mention here, where both of these guys had lines that wrapped around lines that wrapped around lines, if that even makes sense.  Don’t worry it didn’t make sense there either.  I spoke to a security guard at the Liddell line and she told me that people started waiting before 10am and they had to cut the line off at 1:30pm.  And keep in mind that is only the line these people were still waiting another hour or more to actually see Chuck.  Stephan Bonnar was at the NGauge booth as well as the artist of NGauge, who were actively working on a large painting of Chuck Liddell, which was really cool to see.  Bas was again drawing a huge line at the HDNet Fights booth.  Let me take a timeout from the blow by blow to give another piece of advice.  There is something to be said for keeping your eyes open at an event like this and taking advantage of some good old fashioned timing, which is something you will hear me mention later as well.  But for this little piece if timing we were mingling with a few fans who happened to gather at the RVCA booth and in conversation they said they heard that Vitor Belfort was on his way to the booth.  One of the reps from RVCA confirmed that info and said he was in traffic and he would be there in a few minutes, so lo and behold, we are all of a sudden third in line to meet Vitor.  He was there within a few minutes.   So I met Vitor Belfort, one of the sports all time greats, got a picture with him, and set up an interview for an upcoming issue of TapouT Magazine within a 5 minute time span.  Form Athletics had a nice display even though it took me about 5 minutes to decipher the words on their logo.  They had Uriah Faber, Mark Munoz, and Joseph Benavidez among others making appearances throughout the weekend.

Now to get back to the timing I spoke about a minute ago.  The lines for all UFC Fighter Signings were pretty long, and some quite honestly not worth the wait.  I won’t be disrespectful and mention any names, but there were a few guys who, even as a huge MMA Addict, I wouldn’t wait in any line to see.  Many of these fighters could be seen all weekend just hanging out at other company’s booths, walking around the expo, hell, even stopping to play UFC Undisputed with fans.  So if you just kept your eyes open and were in the right place at the right time, you could have caught up with most of the fighters just in passing, and they were more than accommodating as far as taking pictures, signing autographs, etc.

I finally got a chance to catch up to future mega star Phil Davis.  We are both from Pennsylvania and we both spent time in State College, PA.  I also sponsored him earlier in his career, so it was nice to finally have some time to talk to him for a few minutes.  I also talked to him about doing an interview for the magazine, which we have been trying to set up for a little while now.  He wanted to know who keeps the original artwork from our interviews we do, and I said that I do of course.  So, Phil suggested that instead of us doing the crazy, full-color artwork, that we could just do two smaller pieces and just strictly use the black Sharpie, considering the fact that he is quite dark, and we could each have a piece of artwork!  That’s Phil Davis, he’s got that “it” factor, he’s got a great personality, he has all the talent in the world, and he will go as far as he chooses to go in this sport.

It was now noon on Saturday, and one of the items on my schedule/bible/to-do list was to watch the super fights at Grapplers Quest.  The first super fight was scheduled to be Renzo Gracie against Pablo Popovitch and the second fight was Rolles Gracie against Roberto “Cyborg” Abreu.  Renzo withdrew so there was a replacement sent in his place. We got there and literally were front and center for the fights.  We were in the front row dangling over the railing so that was awesome!  The super fights were being streamed live on UFC.com so that was pretty special as well. Popovitch outpointed his opponent in a very matter of fact way.  The second fight, between Rolles Gracie and “Cyborg” Abreu, was very entertaining.  It went back and forth with both men nearly catching the other in submissions, rear naked chokes, ankle locks, etc.  Both men were in deep water at different stages of the fight only to come back stronger and continue to put on a great show.  Cyborg won the fight on points and it was a great demonstration of the art and sport of grappling, especially for my fiancée who knew very little about the grappling arts prior to this experience.  She left with a newfound respect and understanding. During the time we were downstairs watching the super fights, there was a lot of commotion upstairs.   Apparently there was some Shaquille fella up on stage doing a Q&A with Goldie.  After some time at the grappling area, we made our way back upstairs to the expo where we ran into an ungodly long line at the UFC Fighter signing for Anderson Silva.  I guess he still has a good fan base after all.  At this point the Chuck Liddell had us finding him signing at the Xyience booth.  As a side note, this is pretty much how it went all weekend.  Fighters playing musical sponsor booths (not chairs, follow me here) in signing for a few hours at one sponsor’s booth, then literally ripping off their shirt and putting on a new one and signing at the next company’s booth.  Another piece of advice from Uncle Tony (me) to all of the smaller exhibitors at an event like this would be to bring fighters for appearances!  Fans can go into a store and pick up your shirt, they can get on your website and see all the other things you offer, but what they really want is to be able to interact with the guys they idolize, admire, and revere so much…the athletes.  Along those same lines, anyone who has been to a show like that has come to expect as much.  So if other companies have Chuck Liddell, or Randy Couture, or Jon Jones, and your company brings a moderately attractive girl and your buddy who is a local rapper, and your stuff looks just like the companies in the next ten booths, and  you think you are going to compete, you are sorely mistaken. You need to differentiate yourself from the rest of the pack, and getting a big name fighter, hell, getting any named fighter, would be a start.  I saw it numerous times at the convention, same tired designs, corny company name, with some lame shtick thinking they were going to cash in on MMA.  Fans of our sport have been extremely lucky to this point to have our top level athletes be extremely accessible; it is one of the major draws to fans of this sport. While I’m giving out free advice, here is another tidbit for you…  As the expo was coming to a close, many, if not all, of the exhibitors were drastically slashing prices, and by the end of the second day, Ecko was selling tees for $20 and fight shorts for $20.  That is just one example.  At this point, we called it a day at the expo, headed out to grab a bite to eat, and back to the hotel to get ready for the fights. You surely are reading this well after the event has unfolded, so I won’t be any more redundant than I usually am and give you a blow by blow of the fights.  All I will say is, that I was only right on one of my pre-fight predictions, but it was the one that mattered most to me, with Captain America saving the day.  All is right in the world of MMA!