Even in an organization known for over-the-top hype, July’s UFC Fan Expo was one of the most grandiose spectacles the Ultimate Fighting Championship has staged.
The success of the event, attended by between 30,000 and 50,000 fans, has set the stage for what is billed as an even bigger expo at Mandalay Bay on Friday and Saturday.
“I was blown away by the response to the first UFC Fan Expo,” UFC president Dana White said in a release.
In addition to hundreds of exhibitors, many using appearances from UFC stars to attract patrons, the expo will feature a grappling tournament, speeches, autograph sessions and the largest showcase of mixed martial arts-related items anywhere.
“We’ve added even more cool stuff to this year’s UFC Fan Expo,” White said. “Our goal was to give our fans an experience that is second-to-none in the sports world.”
The event kicks off with a speech from White at noon Friday, followed by a fan Q&A session and a look-alike contest with the UFC president.
A grappling tournament will be contested, with several exhibition superfights interspersed during the action.
The special attraction grappling contests will begin at 1 p.m. each day and feature decorated ground fighters Caol Uno, Takanori Gomi, Hermes Franca, Shane Roller and Javier Vasquez.
Fans will have the chance to receive instruction from UFC fighters and some of the top trainers in the sport.
Randy Couture, Frank Mir and Brandon Vera are among the fighters teaching seminars, which require a separate fee.
The fan expo runs from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Friday and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday.
■ FREE EVENTS — The news conference and open workouts in advance of Saturday night’s UFC 114 card at the MGM Grand will be open to the public.
Main event fighters Quinton “Rampage” Jackson and Rashad Evans will be featured at a news conference at the Hollywood Theatre at the MGM on Wednesday. Doors open at 12:45 p.m.
The public is also allowed to attend open workouts featuring Evans, Jackson, Michael Bisping and Dan Miller, among others.
The workouts begin at 11:30 a.m. Thursday in Studio A & B at the MGM.
■ SYLVIA EARNS VICTORY — Former UFC heavyweight champion Tim Sylvia defeated five-time World’s Strongest Man Mariusz Pudzianowski on a Moosin pay-per-view card Friday night.
Sylvia won for the second straight time after losing three consecutive bouts. Pudzianowski appeared badly fatigued early in the fight.
Although his opponent had just two previous pro fights and no endurance, Sylvia declared himself ready for a return to the elite level.
“This feels great, man. I’m back,” Sylvia said after the second-round TKO. “Mariusz Pudzianowski is one hell of a tough guy.”
Contact sports reporter Adam Hill at email@example.com or 702-224-5509.