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The “Fake Black Belt Gets Exposed at UFC Gym” Video — An Explainer

By now, you might have seen this video circulating around Facebook or various MMA forums. In short, we have a chubby man writhing around on a mat, complaining of an injured leg, while the person behind the camera calls his jiu-jitsu credentials into question. Essentially, you’re witnessing the live debunking of a fraud — the BJJ equivalent of those Stolen Valor videos. But the story is a little hard to follow at first glance. So let’s break it down…

Who is that guy on the mat?
His name is Jeremy Varney, an alleged martial artist and former MMA promoter from Hawaii. Varney was in the news four years ago when an event he was promoting was robbed under very mysterious circumstances. Varney claimed that “the purse money for the fighters had been stolen out of one of the inspector’s vehicles…and then we gave them the option [that] if they wanted to fight, they could fight and I would pay them at a later date, or they could just walk if they wanted to.” Most of the fighters walked, and the event was canceled.

At some point, Varney was hired as the head BJJ coach for the UFC Gym in Flower Mound, Texas. Here’s a bio for Jeremy that listed him as a “brown belt in BJJ GI from Gracie Bara [sic] Hawaii.”

Who’s the guy behind the camera and doing most of the speaking during the video?
That’s a BJJ purple belt and amateur MMA fighter named Justin Farwell, who trains at North Texas MMA, close to the UFC Gym in Flower Mound.

So how did Varney and Farwell come into each other’s lives?
The prologue to this story is the most confusing part. Around Thursday of last week, Varney visited North Texas MMA (according to Farwell’s account) looking to “confront” Tery Corkran and Matt Lary. Eventually, “words were exchanged” between the three men, though we’re not clear on how the conflict originated. On Sunday afternoon, Farwell wanted to get a roll in, but he had missed the open mat at his gym. So Farwell called the UFC Gym inquiring about the jiu-jitsu program and the manager told him that they had a guy who had just received his black belt, and would be happy to work with him for a half-hour. That “black belt,” of course, was Jeremy Varney. During their initial meeting, Varney came off as “real sketchy and fishy” according to Farwell, but they rolled anyway.

Judging from the video, Farwell must have heel-hooked the hell out of Varney, right?
Nope. As Farwell describes it, he first tapped Varney out with a rear-naked choke after 15 seconds. During that 15 seconds, Varney failed to demonstrate even the most basic of defensive techniques. Varney then started complaining that he had banged his foot on the stairs just before they rolled. They go at it again, and Farwell easily moves to mount and is about to sink an arm-triangle choke, when Varney freaks out and says he hurt his leg. Farwell was immediately convinced that Varney was a fake black belt. “I was shocked,” Farwell said. “I’ve never tapped any belt-level that fast.” Which brings us to the actual video…

So what exactly is happening here?
Farwell and the gym manager (a guy named Jeff) are gathering around the fallen Jeremy Varney, as he feigns agony about a fake leg injury. There’s this exchange:

Farwell: “Where did you get your black belt at?”

Varney: “Hawaii.”

Farwell: “This guy’s saying he’s got a black belt, he clearly doesn’t have a black belt…he clearly does not have a black belt.”

Varney: “Are you smoking crack??”

Farwell: “No, I’m not smoking crack, dude…I’ve trained with black belts, this guy’s not a black belt. Why would he say he’s a black belt? Who’s your black belt coach?”

Varney: *silence*

So yeah, that’s pretty damning, despite Varney’s claim that he could totally go home and get his black belt and show it to them. Here’s another great exchange:

Varney: “I swear to God, If I could get up right now, we would definitely…”

Farwell: “We would definitely what? It doesn’t matter, we just did it right there, man.”

Jeff: “I mean, what is it that you want? What is it that you’re asking?”

Farwell: “What I want, sir, is for you to tell this man, don’t say he’s a black belt when he’s not a black belt. To earn it just like all of us did. It’s not fair.”

Jeff: “What is it that he needs to produce to show you that he’s-”

Farwell: “The ability, sir. And it’s not there, sir.”

Through all of this, Jeremy Varney is moaning due to fake pain and (we hope) genuine shame. At the 2:34 mark, Varney is literally playing dead.

Why did Farwell decide to film it?
After Varney went down with his “injury,” Farwell said he felt uncomfortable and wanted to document the scene so he wouldn’t be blamed for anything. And it’s actually not him filming it. He asked a female member of the UFC Gym to film the scene while this was happening, and she agreed.

And now, the shocking twist…
Justin Farwell knew that Jeremy Varney he was a fraud before he even stepped into the gym. Remember that initial confrontation that Varney had with Farwell’s coaches? During that exchange, Varney gave them the name of the guy who had allegedly promoted him to black belt. Tery Corkran emailed that guy, and that guy told Tery that Jeremy Varney had never trained with him. That’s a fraud folks. Case closed.

A final thought from Justin Farwell:
“I encourage everyone out there, if you know a guy that says he’s a black belt and he’s not, confront him…just tell him, man, let him know, expose it. Keep the sport pure.”

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