Bloody Elbow's Matt Bishop was on hand yesterday at the weigh-ins for UFC 129: St. Pierre vs. Shields as well as for parts of the UFC Fan Expo. I was able to do both as well, but haven't had the chance to share my thoughts. If you're missing the event, Bishop's account is worth checking out. To wit:
Prior to entering the building, UFC Fight Club members were herded in in one line. People at the door weren't even checking if people were apart of the Fight Club, just letting them in. Everyone was handed a ticket by the arena staff which was them scanned when you entered the building. Then when you entered the arena area, the staff was handing out full-size UFC 129 event posters to everyone and selling programs for $20.
The crowd packed the sections of the arena without obstructed views, and people were standing at the top of the arena bowl, three or four deep at spots, jostling for position to see the stage.
Outisde Ricoh Coliseum, some entrepreneurs were selling St. Pierre headbands for $5 and seemed to be making a very good profit on their product, as they even had a pink version for the ladies.
The UFC Fan Expo also seemed to be a hit, as many fans were walking around with bags from the expo.
Overall, if the weigh-in was any indication, tonight's event should blow the roof off Rogers Centre.
This whole process is a gigantic sales opportunity because of unreal UFC fan interest.
Personally, I was blown away not only by the size of the weigh-in crowd, but the enormity of the Direct Energy exhibit hall. I've been to huge conventions in Texas and Las Vegas. This was on another level completely. On one end the UFC is holding massive Q&A's with the sports top figures. On the other side there are booths doing tattooing. Literally. And in between were vendors from every conceivable vision of what MMA is, who likes it and what those people want. Stunning.