The first World Bare Knuckle Fighting Federation (WBKFF) event is in the books, but there was a swarm of drama ahead of the show.
Former NFL linebacker Shawne Merriman and former Bellator title contender Brennan Ward were scheduled to be on the card. Ward was set to meet former Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) welterweight title holder Johny Hendricks. Instead, Merriman and Ward ended up pulling out of the event. Both men cited WBKFF’s failure to honor their contracts as the reason for cutting the deal off.
Bas Rutten Sends Out A Statement
Rutten not only served as the color commentator for WBKFF 1, but he’s also the promotion’s president. Rutten took to his Facebook page to address the drama:
“After our former matchmaker, who from now on I will call FMM in this story, told a lot of lies to everybody and has tried to sabotage our show, I decided to write about what happened. I was just waiting to wrap up our first show since, he and others, worked against us so much, that we all needed to focus on making this show still happen otherwise all the fighters would have trained for nothing because there would be no show. Reading all the messages from angry fans who believed that guy and me NOT reacting to them because I needed to focus, oh yeah, I am pissed. Believe me when I say that I am really holding back, I edited this story a lot, there is much more.
I came into the WBKFF after the main contracts were already signed Let’s start by saying this, for two fights the payout was $1,275,000. Two fights, 4 fighters, and 3 of them are represented by the same manager? Mmmmmmm, the manager I will call MGR in this story. This manager wanted 100K as well to bring fighters from different managers? Which Tom Stankiewicz, the owner, thankfully never said YES to, I mean, really, why didn’t they Google ‘Johny Hendricks manager’ and do it themselves? What is so hard about picking up the phone? But Tom had NEVER done anything like this in his life and was told by FMM that “he” (FMM) had put on at least 40 shows himself, and Tom simply believed him.
So 2 fights, 4 fighters, 3 represented by the same manager who also wanted $100K to bring in other fighters and negotiated ridiculous contracts. ($1,275,000 total payout for two fights only). That’s what they call an ‘alarm bell.'”
WBKFF was headlined by a light heavyweight clash between Chris Leben and Phil Baroni. Leben earned a first-round TKO. In the co-main event, Hendricks’ replacement opponent Dakota Cochrane made the most of his opportunity. Cochrane emerged victorious via second-round knockout.
Do you think there is a future for WBKFF?