The first ever MMA Expo in Detroit, MI was held on Sunday, September 5th , 2010 at the MGM Grand Casino in downtown Detroit.  The event featured meet and greets and autograph signings with special guests “Suga” Rashad Evans, Muhammed “KingMO” Lawal, Referee Herb Dean and Michelle “The Karate Hottie” Waterson.  There were wrestling/grappling demonstrations, referee demonstrations and other special guests from the Michigan MMA scene. 

The event was relatively small compared to a UFC Expo but extremely well-organized providing a good mix of demonstrations, as well as enough time to meet with the special guests and local vendors, clubs and mixed martial artists. 

The fact that the event was smaller gave those who attended, the advantage of spending extra time with the special guests, taking pictures, getting autographs and having conversations.  The only drawback to the event was that it was not very well advertised and there could have been higher attendance had more people known about it.

The event began with a wrestling/grappling demonstration by KOTC Junior Welterweight Daron Cruickshank (6-1) and Cody Stamann (12-0) fighting out of James Lee’s MASH Fight Team.  Daron and Cody demonstrated different techniques for the audience some of which were: double leg and single leg takedowns, reverse spiral, thigh trip, defending against the cage and pinning an opponent against the wall. 

In addition to fighting for KOTC, Daron Cruickshank recently participated in the filming of MTV’s Bully Beatdown, Season 3 with well-known MMA fighter and host of the show Jason Mayhem Miller.  Daron spoke about filming the show as a positive experience saying he had a lot of fun and everyone on the set was very nice to him.

The second demo was a presentation by Referee Herb Dean, who provided an explanation of rules, a description of his job and how he likes to run a fight.  Herb also took questions from the audience about his job and what it’s like to be a referee, as well as more specific questions on rules and refereeing.  Herb was kind enough to answer questions until the audience did not have any more. 

Herb turned the octagon stage over to Rashad Evans who spoke about MMA, the local MMA scene in Detroit and plans to expand it as well as grow the fan base.  Rashad thanked the audience and guests for their participation and support of the sport. (Check out our exclusive interview with the former champ)

This was followed by kickboxing and boxing demonstrations in the form of sparring sessions.  Both demos were well executed with explanations to the audience of what was happening and being demonstrated by the fighters.  A special local guest to note for the kickboxing demonstration was 15-year-old Harris A. Edwards III, W.K.C.  (World Kickboxing Council) National Kickboxing Champion.  Edwards, trains out of the Go-Ti School of Combative Arts in Delta Twp, MI and has been selected as a team member of WKC USA National Team in Albufeira, Portugal on October 27th through November 2nd, 2010.  There he will be representing the USA and competing in the 2010 World Kickboxing Council Championships.  Edwards trains under the instruction of his father Grand Master Harris A. Edwards, Jr., 9th degree black belt. 

When MMA Valor caught up with the younger Harris he said he “loves competing and is excited to go to Portugal”.  He is also not nervous right now about going and participating in the competition.  He has been training since he was 2 years old and that he took interest in the sport on his own.

The final demonstration of the day was a simulated MMA fight sparring session which again included explanations on the techniques and strategies the fighters were using.

In between demos MMAValor caught up with Michelle “The Karate Hottie” Waterson (8-3).  Michelle began training in Karate at 10 years of age and currently practices Karate, Muay Thai and Jiu-Jitsu.  In addition to being an MMA Fighter, Michelle is also a model.  She began her modeling career in 2004 after she completed high school and her MMA debut was on February 16, 2007 at Ring of Fire 28: Evolution. 

Michelle has fought for both Strikeforce and KOTC and she is the first female mixed martial artist to be featured on MTV’s Bully Beatdown show, Season 3 coming out this fall.  Michelle rated her experience filming the show very positively and said she had fun.  She was nervous prior to the show knowing that she has to win her fight or face all the taunts and jokes back at her gym.    

Other guests and vendors at the expo included:

KOTC representatives and mixed martial artists; James Lee’s MASH Fight Team, Michigan’s only official King Of  The Cage training center, who provided live podcast interviews with Rashad and KingMO. See them at

Live Tenacious, which is Michigan’s largest Amateur Sponsor (

Cooper’s Gym, which specializes in Authentic Muay Thai, Boxing, Hapkido, MMA/Jujitsu, Women’s Kickboxing and Childern’s Karate (

Fight Club specializing in Karate, Jiu Jitsu, Cardio Kicboxing, Boxing, MMA, Combat Fitness and Wrestling (

FightFuel energy supplement representatives; The Go-Ti School of Combative Arts; and Yellow Tigers Inc. (

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