The MMA Expo Experience
"Mr International" Shonie Carter with TSC's Fred "The F-Bomb" Richani
The Sports Courier crew was in Philadelphia, PA on Saturday, January 9, for the Mixed Martial Arts Expo run by Gerald Chopik and James Jefferson, as part of the Philly Sports Extravaganza. By the way, it was also sponsored by HDNet, so we knew it was going to be good, but it even exceeded our high expectations.
It was a hell of an experience!
Now if there has been one thing that's impressed me tremendously, it has been the incredible accessibility to MMA fighters. What I mean by that is this. When's the last time you've seen someone be able to just approach Floyd Mayweather? How about Reggie Bush?
MMA fighters are so accessible to the public and the MMA Expo did a phenomenal job of showcasing that. I'm not going to lie. I really like MMA, but I didn't grow up on it. Basketball, football, and pro wrestling are the sports I grew up loving as a kid. Those are also the three sports that I can say I've developed a damn good expertise in. That's not to say I hated MMA. I never did. In fact, I love watching MMA as often as possible. I would just say that to call me an MMA expert would be unfair, although my site happens to employ a few, including Pat Cyckowski and Ricky Cook, who did a phenomenal job at the expo I may add.
I've fallen in love with MMA. Being around the fighters in Bill Scott's gym and the MMA Expo has shown me something seriously lacking in other sports. I was able to have a legitimate conversation with MMA great and President of HDNet Fights, Guy Mezger. A long conversation I may add. I doubt I could do that with an athlete from the NBA, NFL, MLB, or hell, even NHL.
The other big thing I noticed was that people like Mezger, Shonie Carter, Sean Sherk, and Matt Hamill, among others we spoke to over the weekend, love MMA to the point where they go to great lengths to promote the sport, not just themselves or their sponsors.
Floyd Mayweather is a phenomenal self-promoter. Too bad he can't get me excited to see two no-name flyweights on HBO or Showtime.
Honestly, there's times I don't know who the hell I'm initially watching on HDNet, but the difference is that I have an opportunity to watch them and learn about them on cable television—not pay-per-view or premium programming (HBO, Showtime, etc.).
There's enough free MMA on Versus, Spike, and especially HDNet (my favorite channel and no, I watch Get Out! for more than just the chicks. Okay, well mostly for the chicks, but it is a good show!) to satisfy a fan's needs. Free MMA is great too for the casual fan to learn about the fastest growing sport in the world. And if you haven't noticed, it's usually hard-hitting and exciting to watch. I don't know if it's the marketing or just the fact that a lot of boxers come off greedy (Excluding my boy Manny "Pacman" Pacquiao.....Then again, him and Mayweather called off a fight that would have given them $40 MILLION!! I guess I should change the word greed and replace it with stupidity. Okay, I'm done!), but MMA fighters sure seem a lot more genuine and likable these days. I mean a guy like well, Guy Mezger (no pun intended) didn't have to talk to us for 10 minutes, but he did because he's a cool dude and genuinely cares about the sport of MMA in a world of athletics that features a "me first" mentality more often than not.
Don't get me wrong, boxing fans. I still love watching boxing, but overpriced fights, shoddy promoting, and lack of accessible athletes makes it hard to care about the sport. MMA is on the rise for all the right reasons and the 2010 Mixed Martial Arts Expo in Philly showcased that greatly.
We got to kick it with former Olympians, Kings of Pancrase, UFC Champions, bikini babes, MMA female fighters that could give Gina Carano a run for her money (and looks), Strikeforce Champions, celebrities, network executives, and a ton of other awesome people. The MMA Expo in Philly gave us weightlifting contests, arm wrestling matches, Gi/no Gi competitions, octagon displays, and everything else you could imagine.
For those that made it on Saturday and Sunday, I applaud you all. For those that missed it....Dudes, you really missed out.