UFC Fan Expo Boston: Blow by Blow Day 1

Wednesday, September 1st, 2010 by Tony Reid

I woke up bright and early Friday morning, I take that back, actually it was so early it wasn’t even bright out yet. I had heard horror stories about the lines and crowds at the recent UFC Fan Expo, so I was prepared for anything.  I have been to a number of conventions, including a few of the Arnold Classic Conventions in Columbus, Ohio, so I know the feeling of having a complete stranger up your ass all day long and I was preparing myself for another such day. My fiancée and I made the 6 ½ hour drive to Boston from our home in Pennsylvania.  We arrived in the city and I knew we were close to the John B. Hynes center when I saw the first of many Affliction Shirts of the day.  One of the stories I heard in talking with the The Fight Nerd was that fans waited in line for 2 hours just to get into the convention center in Vegas.  I was already preparing myself for a day of teasing.  I’m not the most patient person and having to wait in long, slow moving lines to see something you are anticipating so much is something I can only equate to dangling a piece of cheese in front of a mouse.  We arrived around 11am on Friday Morning and we waltzed right up to the check-in counter, got our 2 day passes, and made our way to the convention hall (no line!).  In doing so we passed the Grapplers Quest Tournaments which were in full swing with many participants and spectators.  We made our way up the escalators to the second floor where the actual expo was taking place.  Before going any further, I will now offer my first piece of advice.  I am a huge fan of having a plan and in this case you need one.  The Exhibit Hall is open from 10-7 on Friday and 10-6 on Saturday.  That is 17 total hours of UFC/MMA time in 2 days.  That sounds like a ton of time until you factor in a few key points.  If you are inclined to meet the Iceman (Chuck Liddell, people!) you will lose 5 plus hours from one of your days right off the bat.  As soon as you walk in the door you should pick up the official expo program which should act as your bible over the course of the next 48 hours.  It nicely lays out the schedule of events for the weekend-From the training/ development sessions to special events (Q&A’s, Dana’s Keynote Address, etc.), expo specials (who wouldn’t want to win a pair of Jonathan Goulet signed gloves from Headrush?) and most important of all the floor plan.  So I picked up my expo program and, um, threw it in my Hayabusa bag and didn’t look at it the rest of the day.  I was in complete fan mode, like a kid in a candy store.  Like any expo it was immediate sensory overload.  You almost have to take a lap around the place to get your bearings and feel it out a bit.

In our initial lap, one of many, we spotted James Toney signing at the Headrush Booth. By they way, were did Headrush come from?  Maybe the same place TCB did…But I digress…Of course, TapouT was well represented with the tour bus on full display, a huge selection of apparel, and a small army of fighters making appearances all weekend long.  You could take a break and play UFC Undisputed 2010 on one of the many flat screens, and if you were lucky, you might have had the chance to play against a real life UFC fighter.  We spotted Ryan Bader playing, as you guessed it, Ryan Bader against another gamer.  Silver Star had a number of fighter appearances.  Xyience had appearances by Chuck Liddell, Mike Swick, Jon Jones and others.  Speaking of Bones, aside from Chuck, he had, by far, the longest lines forming at his signings.  Jakks and Round 5 both had a number of expo exclusive pieces for sale.  Jakks had a number of figures, most notably the Georges St. Pierre figure that was limited to 500 pieces.  I personally did not get a GSP figure for two main reasons.  1.  I did not camp out overnight outside the Hynes Convention Center.  2.  I refused to give up my first born child.  (I love Avery too much).  How could anyone leave Boston without there very own “UFC Unleashed” inspired see through Chuck Liddell figure?  Actually, everyone would leave Boston without one, they only had the one prototype on hand, which in speaking with an employee,  I was told they were planning on having Chuck sign it and sell it for $250.  I told them they could get 10 times that amount.

I made my way over to the Bad Boy Booth, where Shogun was there with his big shiny belt.  Todd Duffee was signing at the Shock Doctor Booth.  Legends Bas Rutten and Guy Mezger were at the HD Net Booth along with personality Kenny Rice.  On the last day of the expo, I saw Bas on more than one occasion running around the expo with a grey hooded sweatshirt pulled up over his head and most of his face.  I still noticed his distinctive chin, but it was just hilarious to see him incognito.  My fiancée joked that it was either Bas or the Unabomber.  I would be remise if I didn’t mention that the UFC had a nice, large area with a number of interesting items for sale.  One of the coolest parts of their space was the fact that on display were all the original belts from the UFC, PRIDE and WEC.  At this point, Goldie and Rogan were in the middle of their Q&A Session, so we stopped to see them for a minute.  I then bumped into Ariel Helwani, who I respect and admire very much.  I got a chance to talk to him for a few minutes and told him as much.  We swung by the Topps Booth where they were giving out free samples of the soon to be released series of trading cards. Vitor Belfort was at the RVCA Booth for what seemed to be the entire day.  Every time I saw him he had a smile on his face while interacting with an endless line of fans.  He seemed like a class act all the way. At that point, we went by the Xyience Booth where Thiago Alves and Mike Swick were signing. Xtreme Couture was well represented, and when we visited them, Mike Pyle and Randy’s son Ryan were there making an appearance.

And then came the best moment of the entire trip for me.  We were hanging around the TapouT Bus, and when I looked up, there stood Punk Ass.  I had the opportunity to talk to him for a few minutes and explain to him that what he, Mask, and Skrape have created and built was a huge inspiration to me and in some way played a part in me creating my clothing company.  Skrape was there as well and I also got to talk to him for a minute and basically tell him the same thing I told Punk Ass, and he seemed genuinely touched by my story.  I am struggling to put into words what it meant to meet them, and on top of that, be able to express to them what they have meant to me and what they inspired me to do.  To be so inspired by someone or something and to be able to show appreciation and respect first hand is an extremely cool thing and a moment I won’t soon forget.  Handing them my business card and them saying they would check out my website was just icing on the cake.

I began to feel like I was at a NASCAR Expo after making about 500 laps around the place.  We met and got pics with fighters such as Pat Barry, Brendan Schaub, Patrick Cote and Guy Mezger just to name  a few.  At this point, it was time for the weigh-ins at TD Garden, and we set out with the intention of walking there from the Hynes Center but that didn’t last long.  We grabbed a quick bite to eat before passing out and decided to bag the weigh ins.  We went back to the expo, and lo and behold, they were airing them right there on the big screens.  We grabbed a seat and it felt like we were right there at the actual weigh-ins!  As we sat there, we noticed a ridiculously long line that just kept wrapping around corner after corner.  Of course, it was for Chuck who was signing at the Ultimate Iceman booth.  It seemed as if 75% of the entire place was in this line.  As we were heading out, we ran into Seth Petruzelli, who was in a dunk tank of all places.  I told him that he got a mention in my Rattling the Cage piece this month thanks to Marcus Davis and the penis puppetry story.  I told him I would try to track him down later and get a copy of the magazine to him.  Closer to the exit, we decided to take our turn stepping into the Octagon.  We slipped off our shoes, ran up the steps, and bam…we were in the Octagon!  I had been in the Octagon once before when meeting Dana White and Anderson Silva prior to UFC 68 but not enough to really enjoy the cage itself. It was awesome to be able to jump in there, feel the mat under your bare feet, and look up and see the lights and big screens above.  I made sure to throw my arms out and fall back against the cage ala Anderson Silva.  It made me want to get in there for real! After a full day we were ready to head back to the hotel for some much needed R&R.