The first thing you should know before you even attend a UFC Fan Expo is that there is literally more than you can see and do in one day, let alone two if you buy a weekend pass (sadly I did not). Do not beat yourself up over the fact that you were in line for BJ Penn while Chuck Liddell was taking photos or vice versa. You have to grab what you can, where you can, when you can. It’s literally the Chinese buffet of mixed martial arts – there are tons of choices, all of them are pretty good, and a few are outstanding. You’ll get more than you can possibly handle, but a few hours after it’s over, you’ll be remembering how good it was and hungry for more.
The second thing you should know is WEAR COMFORTABLE SHOES. You will be walking a lot, and you will be standing in line a lot, and the latter is actually the harder thing to do. When your feet are in motion they don’t have time to swell up and your calf muscles don’t have time to cramp – it’s the standing still for long periods of time that kills you. Get the most comfortable pair of shoes you can – worn in but not worn out. It might not even be a bad idea to get some inserts for them. This was my first time going to the Expo, so I wore an old pair of shoes thinking I could “get by” and that was a huge mistake. By the time I got to the front of the Carlos Condit line for a picture and an autograph I was in some serious physical pain.
The third thing you should know is YOU CAN CUT THE LINES but ONLY IF YOU BUY A SHIRT. Each line has a “VIP” entrance but sets their own requirements on what and how much you have to buy from that fighter or fight apparel sponsor. If you don’t want to stand around forever and you’ve got $25 or more to save yourself the wait, fork out the extra cash. Next year’s Expo I plan to bring a little extra money just for that purpose – this year I was saving most of it for the F4WCon2013 and spent most of my extra dough buying things from the UFC store at the Expo.
That leads me to item #4 – BARGAINS GALORE AT THE UFC STORE. They were blowing out Pride FC DVDs for $1 each and packs of UFC trading cards for the same price. Event t-shirts in all sizes were $20 – they normally retail for $25-$35 (and up) at the PPV. Fitted hats were only $10 (I got one for Strikeforce). They even had the UFC Encyclopedia for the bargain price of $25, but as it’s a big heavy book and my hands were already full (had three bags worth of merch not to mention the free giveaways) I had to pass. Regrettably I also passed on the commemorative UFC 162 program for Anderson Silva. I should have bought 2.
Last but not least come with a friend. If you’re going to be standing in one of those lines waiting to meet Arianny, Chuck, Forrest, whoever then you should probably have somebody to shoot the shit and spend some time with. The good news is my friend Al Hollis was there so I had somebody to talk to when I wasn’t in the lines – the bad news is he isn’t much for autographs so he was shopping and doing other things while I waited – and given how long the waits were I don’t blame him. That’s why next year I’ll definitely buy a little merch just to get in the VIP lines. You’re getting more than the vendors, autographs and photo ops though at the Expo – you’re getting the Q&A sessions with the likes of Chael Sonnen, Ronda Rousey and more! Visit http://youtube.com/angrymarksdotcom if you want to see highlights of those sessions.
- Steve ‘Wear Comfortable Shoes’ Juon @angrymarks
Reporting on the UFC Fan Expo for Fight Game Blog