Chance Farrar grew up with a bunch of brothers and thinks he's found a way to make MMA more exciting: add more bodies.
The WEC vet and promoter of Desert Rage Full Contact Fighting is holding an event that features two-on-two MMA fights.
"We started trying it in the gym, and it's been successful," he told MMAjunkie.com (www.mmajunkie.com
). "It's nothing short of controlled chaos, but exciting. You can't predict what's going to happen."
The event, "Desert Rage 11: Revenge at Paradise," takes place Oct. 20 at Paradise Casino in Yuma, Ariz.
Farrar, who is semiretired, said the fights will be contested under the Unified Rules of MMA with the exception of no elbows and knees allowed. Two referees will corral a foursome in a 30-foot cage.
Things get even more interesting when a combatant is stopped by strikes, submission, or referee stoppage. Farrar said a one-minute rest is called to give officials time to remove the eliminated fighter, and the round then resumes.
The fight ends, obviously, when one sides loses both fighters. If an eliminated fighter is unable to leave the cage within the one-minute period, the other side wins by forfeit. Rounds will be five minutes each with a one-minute rest period between each round, as with standard pro MMA bouts. But Farrar said there will be no limit to how many rounds a fight can go.
As far as weight classes, a team's collective bulk is added together to classify their division. The lightweight class is 350 pounds and under; middleweight is 425 pounds and under; and heavyweights tip the scales at 500 pounds and under.
Farrar said the individual weights of each team don't matter, so, in theory, a 300-pound fighter could be paired with a 125-pound fighter and qualify for middleweight.
During his first experiments with the multi-opponent format, Farrar said fighter teams initially found themselves cornered inside the cage. Later, they worked to create distance from each other, in effect creating two individual fights during the action. Nevertheless, the action was always decisive.
"This fight does not last," he said. "That's why I'm bringing it to Desert Rage. I think the fans want to see it."
Farrar created Desert Rage Full Contact Fighting in 2007. A former border patrol sniper and sometime pro fighter in San Diego, he moved back to Arizona and became the owner of the Arizona Athletic Club where UFC vets Edgar Garcia and Efrain Escudero trained.
In a 2011 lawsuit, Bellator Fighting Championships sued Farrar, a former consultant, for interfering with its business in promoting a Desert Rage Event close to a Bellator event, among other claims. Faraar called the lawsuit "frivolous" and said it was dismissed.
"That definitely put a dent in my drive, because that's not my day job," he said. "That's all in the past now. I'm just trying to have a good time with this, and I think this show is going to brand our name."
A fight card emailed to MMAjunkie.com shows a two-on-two bout already booked for the event, which he expects to put on YouTube. He said four more teams have volunteered to compete at his next show.
Still, the 37-year-old Farrar said he encountered skepticism about the new format from the gaming commission that oversees the Paradise Casino, but sold them on the idea. He didn't approach the Arizona Boxing Commission, which oversees combat sports in the state but doesn't have sovereignty over the venue.
"People are trying to pawn it off as some kind of gang fight," he said. "That's not the case. The people fighting at this time are … the lower level guys that are crazy enough to attempt it.
"I'm a huge MMA fan and the last thing I want to do is bring anything less than pride to this sport. But I do believe that there's a lot of merit, and it's definitely not a tag-team. People want to paint it as a sideshow. That's definitely not the case. This is a serious fight, and there's a lot of team aspects that are added that are exciting."
Although he noted that he wasn't required to staff the event as would a commission-run show, Farrar said an ambulance and cageside doctor would be present at the show, and fighters would be tested for communicable diseases. He added the fights would be considered pro despite not reporting the outcome of team bouts to official record keepers.
"In our opinion, it's actually safer than a one-on-one fight," he said. "There's no elevated risk to the fighters. There's no blow that they could sustain in a two-on-two that they couldn't sustain in a one-on-one.