Being in the right place at the right time turned Barstool Chicago’s Eddie Farrer into one of the biggest UFC fans in the company.
Born a gambler, Farrer had made a life out of swearing to jump on the first flight pointed towards Vegas when he turned 21 to experience the trip every movie promises. In all honesty, the sportsbooks alone may have been enough for him to get his money’s worth out of the trip. Yet come his 21st birthday, Farrer…didn’t make the trip.
The years of talking about making the trip out to Vegas was exactly that. Talk. It continued to be pushed back further and further until it finally happened. On one of the most monumental weekends in the history of a sport he didn’t even care about: UFC 196 McGregor vs Diaz.
“Needless to say, pretty electric event, pretty electric time,” Farrer said. “That was when Holly was coming off of beating Ronda and I don’t know what you guys consider that era of the UFC but for me it’s a pretty dynamite, all hands on deck kind of spot. Ronda’s in her heyday but just got dethroned, Conor’s in his peak, I was loving it. That was my intro.”
If one’s intentionally vague, you might assume Farrer came out to Vegas for UFC 196 with how sold on the sport he became after one Vegas weekend, but it didn’t take a seat in the MGM Grand Garden Arena that night to sway him. A Planet Hollywood $50 “all you can drink” deal and hype as tangible as it gets was all it took to win him over.
“I’m looking at that card now and Nunes-Shevchenko was the first fight on the card,” Farrer said. “Nunes now is one of the greatest fighters of all-time. It’s crazy now to think about how legendary she is, and the stars kind of aligned for me being there and that’s where it took off.”
Despite how well the trip turned out for Farrer, he does still kick himself over not finding tickets to the fights while he was already a stone’s throw from the arena. There are few ways March 5, 2016, could have made Farrer more of a fan, but that’s one of the few sure-shot paths to success.
Going back to Chicago, Farrer had no shortage of people to discuss the fights with after being won over. The whole city loves sports, the whole city loves a little extra physicality in every sport, and the demographic makeup of the city meant the whole city loved Conor McGregor.
“As a guy being from Chicago, a Midwest traditional sports town, blue collar city, a very Italian and Irish city, there’s something about Conor McGregor that just took over the city and resonated with a lot of Irish friends I had,” Farrer laughed.
To be clear, Farrer was never anti-MMA. Combat sports are combat sports, it’s understandable for people to enjoy it without being consumed in it, especially in a city with a couple teams in almost every team sport out there. Before MMA had reached his radar, he could tell you about the Roy Jones Jrs of the world, the Mike Tysons of the world, but might not be able to tell you much about their opponents. After discovering the athlete recognition in MMA, he found a sport he could get lost in.
“What’s great about the UFC is you guys have done a great job of making the other fighters and the whole card interesting,” Farrer explained. “I tuned in for McGregor and Holly and Ronda but then I become infatuated with the whole Rivalry with Garbrandt and Dillashaw when he left Team Alpha Male and Garbrandt just beat Dominick Cruz and it was a really cool time for that division and there was just so many storylines going on. That was the summer GSP came back, it was a really cool time. Every little thing just kind of worked out.”
Farrer’s UFC 196 experience had him, at the very least, locked in to watch the rematch at UFC 202, meaning that even if he only tuned in to those two pay-per-views from “all right, bang bang” to the final horn, he would have already been exposed to one of the greatest rivalries in the sport, future title challengers Colby Covington, Raquel Pennington, Marvin Vettori, Rumble Johnson and legends such as Diego Sanchez and Jim Miller. In just two cards he saw seven champions and one of the greatest eras in the history of the sport.
With some equally heated rivalries and super fights still to come, it’s hard to talk the King of the Dog Walk into shutting off the TV during UFC pay-per-views. Whatever part of Farrer that wasn’t sold on the UFC with Diaz vs McGregor, GSP’s return, Dillashaw vs Garbrandt and every other storyline of the era pulled him in all the way.
He may not be on Barstool’s MMA podcast and comfortably set in the role of “frequent interviewer” never the “interviewee,” you may not hear him talk about MMA until he’s blue in the face, but if you’re ever in Chicago and pull up a seat at River North next to Barstool Eddie during an event, he just may surprise you with his in-depth knowledge of the UFC. It’s hard to predict if he would have ever become a fan or not had he not put off his 21st birthday trip until March of 2016.
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