We are back from UFC 203, and to say we had a great time is quite the understatement. The UFC VIP Experience is definitely something special! To give you a glimpse into the VIP life, we caught up with our good friend Mark Anthony, who experienced all of the excitement firsthand. Read all about it from his perspective below!
Mark Anthony's Experience at UFC® 203
First and foremost, the people of Cleveland welcomed me with open arms and smiling faces as I stepped off the plane and made my way to the hotel.
Speaking of the hotel, the Renaissance Cleveland Hotel made my downtime comfortable and stress free as there was always a smiling staff member nearby or available to fulfill any request I had.
But anyway, let’s get to why I was in Cleveland in the first place…UFC 203!
With it being the first time UFCVIPE has ever been to Cleveland, I was sure there were going to be hiccups; but there was not a one! My experience opened up Friday, where I was introduced to the UFC fighter Q&A. During the Q&A I had a reserved seat only feet away from the stage as UFC Bantamweight Cody Garbrandt answered questions from the fans. The crowd’s reaction to his answers filled the arena with sounds of laughter and wonderment that only fueled Cody to want to share more of his own stories.
After the Q&A, UFC immediately jumped into the Weigh-Ins so yet again, I was front and center for the action with my reserved seat. Hearing the fighter’s names being called and watching their excitement as they made weight only hyped the crowd as well as myself in anticipation for Saturday’s fights. The final stare downs after pairs weighed in was a prime time to take photos and even heckle some of the fighters.
The best part of Friday had to be the backstage experience! As I crossed through the curtain, I was met with Matt Brown, Junior Dos Santos and Cody Garbrandt! They all were excited and willing to take photos, sign autographs and even share their winning picks for tomorrow evening. Heck, I even got compared to a fighter myself and was asked for pics and an autograph! The backstage experience concluded Friday’s portion of the UFCVIPE program.
As I am leaving The Q, I walked down Fourth Street, which was lined with restaurants, shops and bars. You know what, I must be the luckiest guy on earth, because the restaurant I chose to dine, RED, was full of other UFC stars who were in Cleveland to support the success of 203! I had dinner only feet away from UFC President Dana White.
Saturday comes and I could barely sleep from the excitement of yesterday! Doors opened at 4:30pm and I was escorted to the Octagon by UFCVIPE staff. Having the opportunity to step inside the Octagon was truly amazing and made me feel just like a UFC superstar! The springy feel of the canvas beneath my feet and leaning against the rugged eight-sided fence opened my eyes to what UFC fighters deal with on a daily basis. The icing on the Cleveland cake was when I got to hold the UFC Championship belt! Talk about feeling like a champion! The gold and leather had a solid weight to it that made you feel like you earned it in some way.
After the Octagon experience I was escorted to the private VIP Hospitality room. UFCVIPE pulled out all the stops! The room was loaded with TVs that offered CCTV of the prelims and plenty of places to sit and look through all the pictures I took during the Octagon Tour. Throughout the night, the bar was available with a nice selection of beverages both virgin and alcoholic being prepared by a knowledgeable mixologist. The food was amazing and prepared for you so could enjoy the ease of grab-n-go. Ranging from gourmet prime rib, shrimp, and veggie options like spinach and cheese trays, anyone’s palette could be matched.
Fighters started rolling in and yet again I had another opportunity to share space with champions and contenders as I took pictures in front of awesomely designed backdrops and got autographs from fighters I had not met the day before. The shocker of the evening was when WWE Superstars made it into our hospitality room! Just to name drop one, Jim Morrison was there to support CM PUNK who made his UFC debut later that night.
The hospitality closed at 10pm, so I made my way to my seat that was right behind other UFC fighters like Tyron Woodley! In between bouts, the fighters were nice enough to take more photos, which put you, the fighter and the Octagon all in one shot! Holy cow! All in all, the roar of the crowd and the sound of the fighters moving around in the Octagon made for an electrifying night, and I cannot wait to have another UFC VIP experience again!
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