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Fyre Fest Felon Billy McFarland to Fight Web3 YouTuber in Karate Match

Billy McFarland‘s long, strange redemption arch is taking another weird turn tonight in Austin, Tex., where the convicted Fyre Fest fraudster will fight in a karate tournament organized to entertain podcaster Joe Rogan and several hundred crypto executives attending a blockchain and Web3 conference.

McFarland will face Justin Custardo, best known for being the founder of the Web3 Breakfast Club channel on YouTube, which has about 1,000 subscribers. Organizers of the conference, dubbed Consensus 2024, insist the fight is an officially sanctioned bout by Karate Combat, a martial arts league built around crypto tokens that fans can trade while watching fights between former Olympians in their late 30s and early 40s. McFarland and Custardo will fight in the heavyweight division of Karate Combat’s Influencer Fight Club series, with Karate Combat oddsmakers giving Custardo a 52%-48% advantage over McFarland.

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Since being released from prison in May 2022 after serving most of his six-year sentence on fraud charges related to the disastrous 2017 Fyre Festival in the Bahamas, McFarland has managed to stay in the limelight through a variety of media stunts and promises to repay the $26 million he admitted to stealing from investors. That includes a long-running promise to successfully stage Fyre Fest. The date for that event has been pushed back several times — it’s now supposedly scheduled for sometime in 2025 — with a location, lineup and plan of any kind all TBD at the moment.

Tonight’s fight will be streamed across Karate Combat’s social media pages starting at 6 p.m. CT and will be attended by Rogan, who told viewers of his podcast earlier this week that he would be in attendance to watch the main event between American fighters Ross Levine and Adrian Hadribeaj.

McFarland has posted several videos on Instagram that show him training for the match, including one video where he punches through a pizza box housing a large pepperoni pizza and another in which he kicks a watermelon.

McFarland’s opponent Custardo appears to be taking a more holistic approach to training for the fight, focused on weight loss, technical skills work and mental acuity training through philosophical puzzles posed by his followers.

The men have been trading shots over social media in the lead-up to the fight. Yesterday, McFarland and Custardo came face to face at the official weigh-in in Austin, where the two men, clad in blue jeans and white button-up shirts, traded barbs and sized each other up, appearing to almost come to blows at one point.

“I’ve been training Muay Thai and I’m going to kick (Custardo) very hard,” McFarland warned when asked about his training regimen by the event’s emcee. At a press conference after the weigh-in, Custardo fired back, warning that “every punch [McFarland] takes is in honor of every person he scammed.”

McFarland told the audience he would donate all winnings to victims of his fraud.

Besides his restitution fund, McFarland faces a civil lawsuit claiming he ripped off an investor who gave him $740,000 after getting out of prison. An attorney for 54-year-old Jonathan Taylor of New York — who met McFarland while both were serving prison sentences at Elkton Federal Correctional Institute in Ohio, — claims McFarland needs to appear in court and agree to repay him or face legal action for civil fraud, conversion, civil conspiracy, breach of contract and unjust enrichment.

An attorney for McFarland said Taylor is trying to profit off his connection to McFarland, stating, “we tried multiple times to repay Jon his money, but his lawyers went silent despite our repeated attempts to contact them. We remain open to a settlement.” 

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