MMA & Sports Expo Comes to Atlantic City

10/21/2011 06:25 pm ET | Updated Dec 20, 2011

The MMA & Sports Xtreme Show will host the 11th annual MMA & Sports Expo this weekend in Atlantic City.

The expo, which MMA & Sports Xtreme Show co-host Susan Apap described as "quite the networking opportunity" for mixed martial arts enthusiasts, will include a grappling contest, strongman competition and other athletic competitions. In addition to athletic events, the expo will feature booths with products for sale from multiple vendors of athletic training products.

The MMA & Sports Expo is the brainchild of personal trainer James Jefferson, who said he founded the expo because he "wanted to reach more of a mass of people" than just the people he trained. Apap estimated Jefferson has invested between $300 thousand to $400 thousand in the expo. Jefferson originally wanted to create a television show, but said doing so at the time would have been even more expensive than the expo.

"Back in the early 90's we looked at putting a television show together, but as television was in the 1990's it would cost nearly a million dollars at that point, and as a personal trainer I didn't have a million dollars to do that," Jefferson said. "So I came up with the idea of doing an expo."

Jefferson's expo was originally simply a bodybuilding event, but he said "the crowds were never that large, so we started to add in martial arts."

"Each year we would add more and more martial arts and combat sports to the event while still keeping some bodybuilding, strongman, arm wrestling and those other things," Jefferson said. "It grew to the point where a few years back it just exploded with the mixed martial arts and grappling. Now we're in our 11th year and we have upwards of 500-600 athletes competing in up to ten sports."

Two years ago Jefferson ramped up his efforts to promote the expo, creating and self-producing The MMA & Sports Xtreme Show. Jefferson and his staff have since produced three seasons' worth of episodes, which he said are available for download on most mobile devices.

"Over the last two years, I wanted to see if I could get more people to find out about the expo, and that's when I came up with the idea of actually having a television show that would cover the MMA scene worldwide and not necessarily be attached to one organization but be fair to all organizations," Jefferson said. "We're fully credentialed by the UFC, by Bellator, we cover all the major organizations and we've been all over the country covering those."

The UFC signed a deal with FOX in August, and Jefferson estimates Spike will lose approximately one third of its programming as a result of the UFC's departure from the network. He said he hoped his show benefits from the vacancies on Spike or Versus created by the UFC's deal with FOX. The MMA & Sports Xtreme Show was just recently downloaded for the three millionth time according to Jefferson, and he said the show is in negotiations with both Spike and Versus to appear on one of the two networks. Apap joined the show in August after contacting Jefferson through Facebook and requesting to join the show.

"I didn't ask him, I kinda told him: 'You need a female who's fit, who's athletic, who can talk the talk with the best of the best,'" Apap said. "It opens up the demographic because if a guy tells his girlfriend, 'Hey look, this show has a female,' she might watch it and show her girl friends. So that gives you a whole 'nother demographic."

Jefferson said in addition to Apap's presence in New York, he hopes to expand the show and add co-hosts in Canada, New Zealand and Russia.

The MMA & Sports Expo will start at 6 p.m. Friday at Resorts Casino and Hotel, located at 1133 Boardwalk, Atlantic City, NJ 08401. At 8 p.m. the expo will host an autograph session for fans to meet fighters. The expo will resume 10 a.m. Saturday, with an assortment of athletic competitions and seminars lasting until 11 p.m. Tickets are $10 for one day or $15 for both days and can be obtained via the expo's website.