For those first time fans new to the UFC Fan Expo, check out my Survival Guide to the UFC Fan Expo. These are general tips about waiting in line, getting autographs, and other miscellaneous things that I picked up from going to prior UFC Fan Expos.
This guide can also be applied to any other expo like Comic-Con, E3, Wondercon or PAX.
The UFC Fan Expo is my Disneyland. It is a place where my dreams come true. I am immersed in everything UFC, from the fighters, to the MMA t-shirts, to the MMA booths, to the sounds of interviews, and to the sights of past fights on the big screen. Leading up to the expo, I have dreams about who I’ll meet, what I’ll purchase, to which booth will be the coolest. I am caught up with thinking about my past UFC events and thinking about all the things I need to prepare for. Once I enter the expo, I am entering the happiest place on Earth.
This is my fourth UFC Fan Expo. It was held in the Mandalay Bay Convention Center from Friday July 5th to Saturday July 6th. They sell 3 different tickets, Ultimate VIP which allows line cuts, VIP which allows 1 hour early entry, and basic tickets. You also get different swag with the VIP passes. This year, I upgraded to $200 VIP ticket, which included a duffel bag, poster, early entry, and a lot of free swag.
At 6:00 am, there is yes, already a line. Keep in mind, general admission isn’t until 10:00 am. But I was probably about the 40th person in general and the 20th VIP. The biggest name I wanted to meet was GSP, so I planned my day around meeting him. Any big fighter like Jon Jones, Chuck Liddell, Anderson Silva or Ronda Rousey requires a lot of planning since those lines can take up half a day. I have heard stories of people waiting the entire day, just to meet one fighter. I had about three hours of waiting, but the time goes really fast. The people in line can give great tips about maximizing your time and making the most of your day. After a quick three hours, we were in at 9:00 am!
Since GSP was signing at 11:30, I had some time to hit up other fighters. I went right to Miesha Tate and Josh Thompson. Everyone was pumped for Miesha, not so much for Josh. After about 30 minutes, I went to Rachelle Leah, who co-hosts Inside the UFC. At about 9:45, I went to the GSP line, who was signing at an official UFC booth. They changed it up this year, and only allowed the first 125 people before cutting off the line. I was #60. I actually didn’t meet him until 12:30 pm, and he was only signing from 11:30 am to 12:30 pm. I’m not sure what happened to the other 65 people waiting behind me. Even though it was a long three hour wait, I managed to meet Bruce Buffer and Britney Palmer, who were walking by.
I finished with GSP at 12:30 and decided to wait for Cung Le at 1:30 pm at another UFC booth. I ate lunch while sitting and waiting in line (note: always cheaper and logistically easier to just bring lunch. You can save time and wait in line rather than leaving the expo). From about 2:00 pm to 4:00 pm, I walked around and met some more of the mid-tier fighters. I knew that the other big names required at least a half of day planning and I can only do a long three hour wait once a day! I met Ryan Bader at Cytosport Booth, Mark Coleman at HeadCase, Mike Goldberg, Daniel Cormier at Cage Fighter, and Martin Kampmann at BSN. All of those lines were less than 15 minutes and definitely worth the wait.
After a quick break, I continued meeting fighters from 4:00 pm until 6:00 pm. We got autographs for Phil Davis at MMADraft and Chrissy Blair at the UFC Photo Area. Then we ended it with Dominick Cruz at Toyo Tires. Lots of fighters, pictures, autographs, free stuff, and a ton of walking = exhausted UFC Super Fan! But I absolutely enjoyed every second of it.