Johny Hendricks’ bare knuckle boxing debut just hit a bump in the road, as his opponent, Brennan Ward, has bowed out of the matchup, which was set to go down this Friday (Nov. 9, 2018) in Casper, Wyoming.
Ward took to social media to explain his decision after World Bare Knuckle Fighting Federation (WBKFF) allegedly failed to live up to its original contract.
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According to a statement released by WBKFF CEO Tom Stankiewicz to MMA Fighting, the promotion confirmed the withdrawal and revealed that a hunt for a new opponent for “Bigg Rigg” is underway.
Brennan Ward has withdrawn from this Friday night’s “Rise of the Titans” PPV main event. His scheduled opponent, Johny Hendricks, is arriving today in Casper and we expect to have his new opponent approved by the Wyoming commission and the new main event announced by tomorrow morning at the latest. We worked through the 11th hour to keep the original main event intact but, unfortunately, it isn’t happening due to circumstances beyond our control. World Bare Knuckle Fight Federation is a new promotional company presenting our inaugural event. We still have a great show for combat sports fans from all over the world to watch live on pay per view. Additional details will be coming later today after our press conference.
According to ESPN's Brett Okamoto, Hendricks still wants to compete at the event, and also noted that ex-NFL star Shawn Merriman did in fact out pull out of the event for the same contractual issues.
I'm told Johny Hendricks is still discussing options to compete on Friday, after Brennan Ward announced his withdrawal alleging WBKFF failed to honor his contract. Ex-NFL player Shawne Merriman also pulled out of this event, citing contracts weren't honored.— Brett Okamoto (@bokamotoESPN) November 7, 2018
The truth about the fight is contracts weren’t honored period, anything else is completely false. I believe people who followed me long enough know I wouldn’t just “back out”.— Shawne Merriman (@shawnemerriman) November 6, 2018
Ward will be replaced by The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) veteran Dakota Cochrane, who was originally scheduled to fight Marcelo Alfaya on the undercard. Alfaya will now fight Joey Munoz in a 177-pound catchweight bout, according to WBKFF officials.
Hendricks hasn’t competed since getting knocked out by Paulo Costa at UFC 217 way back in November 2017. Things didn’t go too well for Ward in his last combat outing, either, as he was forced to tap to Fernando Gonzalez at Bellator 182.
WBKFF 1: “Rise of the Titans” — which airs on pay-per-view (PPV) — currently features a bout between former UFC fighters Phil Baroni and Chris Leben. To see the rest of the fight card click here.