The Las Vegas, Nevada Convention Center set things off July 8-10 for the UFC Fan Expo, one of the featured events of UFC's International Fight Week. The annual event which started in 2012, described by the UFC as "the ultimate week-long experience for UFC fans." It celebrates amateur and pro combat sports alike through social events and competitions to recognize the fans and supporters of combat sports.
Proof of that can be found at UFC Fan Expo, where the UFC's top names show up each year to return some love to the casual, hardcore and curious fans who buy their pay-per-view fights and support their events around the world. As a fan myself, this would be my first expo experience. So I was excited to see what they had to offer and I can't say I was disappointed.
The UFC provides an overwhelming fan experience with several opportunities to meet the stars of the sport for autographs and photos, watch live interviews with legends of the octagon and kick and punch your way through a UFC Gym Striking Challenge.
Sponsors and exhibitors are also on hand to enhance the show with well built-out booths and displays, along with multiple meet and greet sessions with some of the UFC's finest.
Of course, no true fan would want to leave empty handed. So souvenirs, gifts and gear are made available at a massive UFC Store.
If all if this wasn't enough, a martial arts tournament runs concurrently with the EXPO with admission free to attendees. Multiple disciplines were represented including, judo, taekwondo, kick-boxing, wrestling, jujitsu, karate and cage MMA. Participants ranged from kids to seniors with formal medal presentations and rankings at stake with the different sponsor organizations.
After spending only a couple of hours at the expo, I was experiencing full combat fan sensory overload. There seemed to be something going on everywhere you turned and for a fanatic, it was a bit overwhelming. My suggestion to first time attendees. Pace yourself. This is a three day event. Plan ahead and prioritize who you want to see and where they will be, so you can get a good spot in line ahead of time. As example, Nate Diaz was scheduled to appear at 2:30p.m. on the second day and a long line began forming at 11:30a.m. Those who were unaware of the presence of Uriah Faber at the metroPCS booth had to scramble to join a massive line that seemed to form in seconds.
It was a bit comical to see grown men and women wide-eyed and alert for the next attraction like kids walking through an amusement park. But I understood because I was one of them. If you go next year, pack light, where comfortable shoes, buy water at the event and enjoy your time. I know I did.