MMA is as real as it gets! Once you get in that ring or cage, you need all the strength, mental and physical. MMA fighters’ conditioning and training is focused around functional strength, versus linear, or muscle isolation of bodybuilders. Knowing that experienced coaches and fighters understand the true concept behind the functional strength training, I was sure they would see the potential and benefit in using Bison-1 in their training. After visiting the UFC Fan Expo 2010 in Las Vegas, I was completely sure that fighters will be turning to Bison-1 for their wrist and forearm functional training. Bison-1 shocked the crowds!
After getting about three hours of sleep we headed out to Las Vegas at 5 am from Boise, ID. The road to Las Vegas is always a boring drive: deserts and some mountains here and there. We have arrived to our hotel by 2:30pm and finally got the Mandalay Bay Convention Center, where the UFC Fan Expo took place by about 3:30pm. I had a feeling this experience is going to be interesting, as I was holding up on the energy drinks and was not ready for anything that did not involve resting…
We entered the UFC Fan Expo 2010 right at around the middle of the first day, we were not in a hurry as we had two day passes, and knew we would have more than enough time to talk to people. The purpose of our visit was to find potential distributors, and get feedback from celebrities in the world of sport, fighters, coaches, magazines, and companies related to sports equipment distribution.
The Mandalay Bay Convention Center was filled with booths promoting their products, autograph signing tables on the back, the UFC stage on the left, and wrestling hall on the right side from the front entrance. I was very excited to see such a long list of participating companies, as I was hoping many will be distributing sports equipment. After looking around the expo, we realized that there were only a few booths that carried or were interested in distributing workout equipment. The plan had to change, as we knew that it would definitely take less than two days to talk to about three distributors. The new plan included talking to the distributors first, then hitting up the magazine publishers, and then getting feedback from fighters, celebrities, and companies related to fitness and strength training. We also decided to record as many special events as possible that took place at the UFC Stage and the wrestling Hall A (however, we then found out that the Grapplers Quest tournament recording was restricted by the UFC could not be posted for public).
First, we headed for the BodyKore booth, where we started talking to Kirby, one of the BodyKore representatives. He was quickly impressed by the new and unknown to them equipment and called up a few other BodyKore representatives to try Bison-1. To standardize the tryouts and make them quick I had everyone try these three exercises: front arm bicycle, brace, and front wrist rotations (watch the workout videos for more info), if they wanted to continue, I would have them do the same exercises in different planes, as well as behind the back. The crowd quickly gathered around, while BodyKore representatives were testing out Bison-1. Everyone who tried the equipment was shocked by the quick effect on the forearm muscles after doing just the first few sets. I brought with me the steel rods, and the crowd was gathering around trying to watch volunteers trying to bend them unsuccessfully. Kirby and Leo with BodyKore gave me their contact information and expressed a lot of interest in further negotiations about the equipment distribution. They have never seen anything like this equipment before, and said “Bison-1 makes a lot of sense” and “you can really work you forearm muscles from all angles”.
Next we decided to talk to the Army National Guard representatives and see what it would take to start distributing Bison-1 to them. Long story short, – we were referred to our local Army recruitment/Training office, however, Bison-1 did end up catching their eye. After trying a couple of exercises with Bison-1, one of the soldiers decided to try bending the steel rods, as he said the always liked a challenge. He pushed it against the leg and started bending it before I could stop him and say that he could only use his wrists without any additional support. He did end up bending them, he refused to try it again and said there is no way he could tie a knot. Even though the rod was bent, it was not a legit one in my book, so we moved on.
We then stopped by the Everlast booth. I practically grew up on the fighting gear made by Everlast and was very excited to talk to them about Bison-1. The Everlast Brand Manager, Tyler Cook, was very impressed after I let him give it a couple of whirls. He said that it would be a great piece of equipment for trauma recovery or prevention, as it allows all-directional wrist movement. He was also impressed by the portability and efficiency of Bison-1. Tyler started trying a few exercises on his own. Then after discussing the distribution options, he asked if Everlast could brand it. Unfortunately, we said that Dr. Sotsky would fly in tie every single one of us in a knot here like the nails in the video, if we did that. Tyler easily understood the situation, and agreed that the equipment had a lot of potential in multiple directions or fitness, strength training, sports, and physical rehabilitation. He said that Everlast would only distribute equipment that can be branded by them, but said that he personally was interested in getting one.
We then aimed for the Century, LLC, where we spoke to the national Sales Manager, Mark Hammond. He expressed a lot of interest in Bison-1 distribution. After taking a look at the equipment, he simply gave us his business card and asked to get a hold of him after the expo. He said that Bison-1 looked like a serious candidate and we would need to discuss it later.
That was it! No other booths distributed any workout equipment, but you could probably buy a different shirt for every day of the rest of your life though! So we started talking to the magazine publishers about placing ads and other promotional services they offered. A couple of booths, unfortunately, already ran out of their pricing kits, however, we were able to make good contact with Black Belt Communications, LLC and Fighters Only.
Johnny Dunn, Media Sales and Relations for Fighters Only magazine, was very excited to hear about the new piece of equipment being imported from Europe. Johnny and the former UFC fighter at the Fighters Only booth were very impressed by Bison-1, especially after trying the three basic exercises with it. They were also shocked about how hard it was to bend the steel rods and were why Bison-1 is only now coming to the USA. They said it had a very bright future! Besides talking about the ad placement, reviews, and other services, Johnny expressed some personal interest in the equipment, as he had been into sports and working out for a while, but had never felt such a quick effect on his forearms from any other equipment, especially at different angles. He said it let him know of the old injuries. We exchanged information, and are now looking forward to further cooperation.
At that point we decided to get a couple of autographs from the UFC fighters at the signing tables. We started with Ryan Bader and George Sotiropoulos, which took us about 10 mins. of standing in the line for both of them. Excited about how quick we got two autographs, we headed for Machida. …that was the longest line that night, it took us approximately an hour to finally get to him. After getting a picture and an autograph we decided to simply spend time looking around the expo, and check out some other new fighting gear and equipment, as well as new supplements and other nutrition. Barely able to walk, we left at around 4pm right at the closure of Day 1.
Completely rested and full of energy, we headed back to the Convention Center for the second round of the UFC Fan Expo. Since we already talked to all the workout distributors and marketing companies, we decided to record as many special events and shows as possible, try to get feedback from fighters on Bison-1, as well as have some fun with the crowd and big guys at booths – I absolutely had to find at least someone who could bend the steel rods, which I failed to do the day before. I decided to start with the US Marine Core representatives; unfortunately, the biggest marine refused to try bending the rods, stating he had bad wrists, but the other two went right at it. I mean the guys looked pretty intimidating in their bullet-proof vests; however, they could only barely budge the rods. I asked about possibilities of distributing Bison-1 to the Marine Core, however, the problem was that marines cannot be associated with any commercial distribution according to one of the representatives at the Expo, so it must be a donation. At the same time they said CrossFit had been trying to donate their equipment for a while unsuccessfully, so the mass supply of Bison-1 did not look very promising there any time soon. One of the Marines did say that personal sales to them would be the best bet, as the equipment looked legit and these kinds of functional strength wrist training was very important for Marines. We promised stop by our local base and talk about Bison-1 with our local Marines, as was advised; we think the “The Few and The Proud” truly deserve the best out there!
After talking to the Marines, we started catching up with the fighters at the booths of companies they were representing. It was definitely tough to get even a couple of minutes of their time, as fans were swamping them non-stop. We were still able to catch, jump in, and get some feedback from a few fighters. It was interesting to see how their impression changed after trying a few exercises with Bison-1. A couple of fighters did not seem interested at all until they felt the burn in the forearms after the “bicycle” and “brace” exercises. We got a lot of great feedback from the Jiu-Jitsu, other general grappling, as well as standup fighting points of view. Two of the Pro UFC fighters were very interested in getting one for themselves, but asked to not release their names for the time being, as it could be a conflict of interest with some other companies they contracted with.
As it was getting close to 1pm, we headed towards the Hall A to watch the Superfight of Fred Glover vs. Javier Vasquez. At that point I noticed a crowd around Freddy George’s booth, when he was demonstrating the “Burn Machine”. I saw the exerciser on the videos from the previous UFC Expo, so was interested in the concept behind it and we walked up to try it out. As soon as Freddy saw the Strength Training logos on our shirts, he asked about Bison-1. I took out the equipment and had him try a few exercises with it. While we were trying to record people trying Bison-1, Freddy noticed the camera, and offered to do a quick review with the intro (Video 1). Freddy George was very impressed by Bison-1 and its ability to train muscles from multiple angles. “It’s definitely tough”, he kept repeating while trying our three intro exercises. He had some good things to say about Bison-1, and then he called up another MMA/Jiu-Jitsu Pro Fighter, who carefully examined Bison-1 and gave some very positive constructive feedback about the tension and amount of load on the forearms. He also liked how Bison-1 stretched the muscles at the same time. After I told Freddy about the steel rods and showed them, he tried them out and challenged me to bend them. You can see the video me bending the rods in the Bison-1 UFC Fan Expo 2010 video on the “BisonStrengthEquip” YouTube Channel. The crowd gathered around at this point asking questions and trying out Bison-1. Freddy called up Chuck Zito, the famous celebrity bodyguard, boxing coach, and the former President of the NY Chapter of Hells Angels, to try and bend the steel rods; unfortunately the attempt was unsuccessful. The Athletic Body Care representative turned out to be one of the Strongman Competition contestants and accepted the challenge, he ended up being the only person at the expo who was able to bend the rods. Freddy George then proceeded to demonstrating the “Burn Machine” I like the concept behind the equipment, It is definitely great for speed exercises from my point of view, as well as strength training and rehab from certain angles. At the end of our conversation with Freddy George was specifically impressed by the Bison-1 all-directional movement freedom and the number of exercises, as well as expressed interest in further cooperation.
After a great talk with Freddy George, we watched the Superfight for the Featherweight UFC Fan Expo Champion Title. After the fight we watched the grappling tournament, giving our legs some rest after four hours of walking around, and then talked to some more company representatives, while having them try to bend the steel rods. We ended our day with listening to Herb Dean’s UFC Rules and Regulations lecture. I have been watching UFC for a while, and thought I would simply record the presentation for the YouTube, however, Herb brought up some points, I was not even aware of, in the slideshow. I would recommend to watch all parts of his presentation on our YouTube Channel, even if you are an old UFC Fan, you are guaranteed to find out some new information that will let you better understand the decisions made by the referee in the cage.
After saying “hi” to our bodybuilding.com friends, as well catching up with Brian Shaw, and trying out some new healthy drinks being promoted at the expo, we decided to head out. We had a road to Los Angeles ahead of us, where we had a meeting with a legendary person in the history of MMA. We will release more information about the meeting later.
I was very impressed by the feedback received about Bison-1! It was interesting to hear the opinions from a fighter’s perspective, including the benefits to grappling as well as standup combat strength training. Many fighters were impressed about the quick effect they felt, which was due to the angles of the exercises that seemed to have been neglected during their normal workouts. Many people that tried Bison-1 at the expo were interested in ordering a unit for rehabilitation purposes and recovering from old wrist injuries. Fighters, trainers, wrestlers, and random people were very impressed by the ability of true functional training and simulation of real-life wrist movements with Bison-1. Especially, everyone was impressed by the ability to tie the steel rods into a knot after just two and a half months of training with Bison-1. Many big people stood up to the same challenge, but only one succeeded. This underlines the statistics of having 99% of the world population not being able to budge them. Although we explained the story behind the nail bending presentations, everyone understood the real meaning of functional strength and the level of strength training effectiveness with Bison-1. Fighters have definitely accepted Bison-1 with shocked faces, disappointment in their own wrist strength, and great impression about the effectiveness of Bison-1, and burn in their forearms! This was definitely a great chapter in the Bison-1 history beginning in the United States!