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Brennan Ward out of bare knuckle fight with Johny Hendricks due to contract dispute

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Brennan Ward
Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

The World Bare Knuckle Fighting Federation’s first event has hit another snag.

Just a day after it was reported that ex-NFL star Shawne Merriman was withdrawing from his bare-knuckle boxing debut scheduled for Friday’s WBKFF show in Casper, Wyo., the main event has also taken a hit as Brennan Ward announced on Instagram that a contract dispute has forced him to withdraw from his fight opposite former UFC champion Johny Hendricks.

“WBKFF won’t honor the contract that was originated for this fight to happen between me and Johny Hendricks,” Ward wrote. “So for that I had to decline this fight and do what was best for me. All the respect in the world to ‘Big Rigg’ Johny Hendricks and to all my followers, I am sorry this all happened last minute.”

MMA Fighting confirmed with sources that Ward’s withdrawal is due to a contract dispute, but Hendricks’s camp could not be reached for comment at this time.

Officials are looking for a new opponent for Hendricks, per WBKFF CEO Tom Stankiewicz, following an initial report by ESPN. Stankiewicz provided the following statement to MMA Fighting:

Brennan Ward has withdrawn from this Friday night’s “Rise of the Titans” PPV main event.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.

Should a replacement opponent be found, this will be Hendricks’s first fight outside of the UFC since announcing his retirement following a second-round TKO loss to Paulo Costa at UFC 217 in November of last year.

With additional reporting by Shaun Al-Shatti.

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