LAS VEGAS, Nev. – Sin City was flooded with everything MMA this Memorial Day weekend. Everywhere there were Tapout, Xtreme Couture, and Affliction T-Shirts, and special UFC Fan Expo passes hung proudly on the necks of dedicated MMA fans.
Fans, fighters, promoters, and sponsors of mixed martial arts showed up in numbers totaling approximately 125,000 for the second UFC Fan Expo. This was more than double the amount of people who attended the first UFC Fan Expo last year which coincided with UFC 100.
“UFC 114: Rampage vs. Evans“, which took place Saturday night following the Expo and held at MGM Grand Garden Arena, added to the hordes of UFC fans who traveled to Vegas this weekend.
“Suga” Rashad Evans and Quinton “Rampage” Jackson finally squared off in the Octagon. The hot air between them had not cooled since the culmination of The Ultimate Fighter season 10 in which Rampage decided to choose Hollywood over a fight against Rashad.
The ever-growing popularity of MMA is in part due to the strong connection between fighters and fans that an event like the UFC Fan Expo cultivates. There were more than 100 exhibitors which featured WEC, UFC, and former PRIDE fighters representing their wares and signing autographs for the fans.
In addition to fighter autographs, booths offered a variety of attractions to garner the attention of fans. Live tattoos were being given by a Tokyo 5 artist, punch meter bags and pads were available to test fans coordination and strength, there were product demonstrations, and companies like Xyience were testing out new product flavors.
The UFC Fan Expo also included a Grapplers Quest tournament that included Superfights between Penny Thomas vs Shayna Baszler, Hermes Franca vs Bill Cooper, Javier Vasquez vs Jeff Glover, Carl Uno vs Fredson Paxiao, and Takanori Gomi vs Shane Roller.
The next UFC Fan Expo will be in Boston on Aug. 27-28, followed by the first Boston UFC show, UFC 118.
ProMMAnow.com roving reporter Tami Carswell caught up with this rabid MMA fan she first met at a Strikeforce event and again at the UFC Fan Expo this weekend in Las Vegas: