by Jeff Cain – MMAWeekly.com
ANAHEIM, Calif. – The North American Mixed Martial Arts Expo descended on the Anaheim Convention Center on Saturday and Sunday. The first of its kind, the expo by all accounts was a success for the promoters, vendors and thousands of fans that attended.
NAMMAE organizers Brian Jaun and Tamara Suguitan, riding high on the success of the inaugural event, are already securing venues for 2008.
“I’m notorious for setting way too high of expectations, and I think we came pretty close to hitting them, so I couldn’t be happier with the way it turned out. We had a very successful event,” said Jaun.
The sport’s big hitters led the way as Tapout, Warrior Wear, Punishment Athletics, Hitman Fight Gear and Xtreme Couture had major traffic at their booths, which were filled with fans waiting to meet the top fighters and looking at their latest apparel, gear and equipment.
Jaun stated, “We had no contracts with any of these people. There was no guarantee that they would even show up. What we did is we built something out of faith and trust that they would come here and they would make tons of money. Tapout ran out of two days worth of clothes at noon the first day and had to drive back up to Riverside for a whole another batch.”
Aside from MMA merchandising booths, NAMMAE held a grappling tournament along with seminars from Ultimate Fighting Championship heavyweight champion Randy “The Natural” Couture and jiu-jitsu specialist Eddie Bravo.
Several local and high profile fighters were on hand signing autographs, taking photos and networking with the assortment of companies in attendance.
Highlighted by Couture, other fighters included UFC lightweight champion Sean Sherk, WEC lightweight champion Rob McCullough, former UFC light heavyweight champion Tito Ortiz, top-ranked lightweights Joe Stevenson and Gilbert Melendez, as well as Dan Henderson, Mike Swick, Jon Fitch, Thierry Sokoudjou, Brandon Vera, Renato “Babalu” Sobral, Jake Shields, Jason “Mayhem” Miller, Kendall Grove, Cub Swanson, Mac Danzig, Tyson Griffin, Gray Maynard, Jon Koppenhaver, “Joker” Mike Guymon, Don Frye, Marco Ruas, Mark Coleman, Shonie Carter, Daniel Puder, Allan Goes, Vladimir Matyushenko, Tank Abbott, Tiki Ghosn; and female fighters Gina Carano, Lisa King and Kerry Vera.
NAMMAE also drew a few celebrities to the Anaheim Convention center as Chuck Zito, Diamond Dallas Page and the “American Ninja” Michael Dudikoff were spotted roaming the isles of booths, as well as ring girls Ali Sonoma, Amber Nichole Miller and Emily Miller.
NAMMAE was by all accounts a total success, but if flew under the radar in the mixed martial arts media as MMAWeekly and Tagg Radio seemed to be the only MMA media covering the event, but with the buzz following the first event, surely that will change in 2008.