UFC Fan Expo comes to Toronto
The event was jam packed with exciting activities that included autograph sessions with UFC fighters, exhibitions, training & development seminars, fan-inspired special events and competitions, meet & greets with top fighters and industry icons, demos of various fighting techniques, interactive events, and much, much more.
The event attracted over 150 leading vendors within the MMA community and covered the entire 300,000 square feet of space offered within the Direct Energy Center. Fortunately the layout was well planned and left quite a bit of space for picture taking, line ups, room to wander and very few traffic jams.
Maybe it was due to the debut of UFC 129 in Toronto, but the atmosphere at the expo was thick with excitement. For the MMAO team, we found that it all struck an interesting balance; in one sense, we felt like we were bumping elbows with the bonafide stars of the sport, something that usually makes a person feel very small. But the casualness and easygoing nature that these fighters brought to the event put fans at ease and made them feel right at home. On the other, we felt like we were getting on board with the bright future of Ontario’s Mixed Martial Arts scene on the ground level. I guess the best way to describe it is that we felt like we were a part of it, not apart from it.
In many ways MMA is still in its fledgling stages, and it was impressive to see something so relatively new being promoted on such a large and supported scale. More impressive was the feeling that we were truly part of that support mechanism and that the companies and fighters involved in the world of MMA recognized and appreciated it. Gratitude seemed to the order of the day, and it certainly did not go unnoticed.
As for vendors, there were many. No matter where you looked there were people huddled around booths looking for their next article or clothing or memorabilia to take home. Fortunately there was much to choose from with booths that featured brand name apparel, electronic gaming, fight gear, fitness equipment and supplies, nutritional supplements, lifestyle products, and many others. To our surprise there were many deals to be had and samples to try, which made being there not only worthwhile but also affordable (especially considering the $45.00 entrance fee was quite high for some people).
One of the biggest highlights of the Fan Expo was the large number of fighters that took part in autograph sessions and a variety of other activities. From the newly-crowned UFC light heavyweight champion Jon Jones, middleweight champion Anderson Silva, heavyweight champion Cain Velasquez, bantamweight champion Dominick Cruz, to
former UFC champions BJ Penn, Frank Mir, Rashad Evans and UFC Hall of Famers Chuck Liddell and Royce Gracie every fighter that a fan could ever hope to meet was there.
Other fighters that made an appearance and participated in autograph signings: Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira, Josh Koscheck, Ryan Bader, Stephan Bonnar, Shane Carwin, Matt Mitrione, Brendan Schaub, Jon Fitch, Miguel Angel Torres, Anthony Pettis, Clay Guida, Joe Lauzon, Cole Miller, Sam Stout, Carlos Condit and Jonathan Brookins.
The Expo also featured autograph signings with some of the hottest girls in UFC including Arianny Celeste, Brittney Palmer, Kenda Perez and Chandella Powell.
All in all it was a pretty amazing day that left the entire MMAO team excited, happily exhausted and thirsty for the growth of MMA within Ontario.
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