Brennan Ward isn’t sure any of the fighters competing at WKBFF 1 on Friday night will actually get paid.
Ward was scheduled to headline the bare-knuckle boxing event against former UFC champion Johny Hendricks in a middleweight title fight, but removed himself from the card earlier this week due to a contract dispute.
Ward said he initially was supposed to make $250,000 to show and $250,000 to win, but then WBKFF reduced his contract two weeks ago to $75,000 to show and $75,000 to win. Later, it was reduced to $30,000 to show, Ward said. That’s why he wanted out of the fight.
“My contract was for big money. They changed the contract on me three times,” Ward told Bloody Elbow. “And they wanted me to buy my own plane ticket and they would f—king reimburse it. Give me a f—king break. That’s less than I get paid in Bellator. I quit fighting. The only way I was gonna fight again was for big money. And that was supposed to be big money.”
WBKFF spokesperson Bob Trieger declined to comment Friday evening.
After Ward’s departure, Dakota Cochrane filled in on two day’s notice to face Hendricks in the main event. In the co-headiner, Chris Leben meets Phil Baroni in a fight between two MMA veterans for the promotion’s light heavyweight title. The card, which takes place Friday night at Casper Events Center in Capser, Wyoming, also features the opening round of an eight-man lightweight tournament; the winner is promised $100,000.
Ward, however, predicts that no one to get paid.
“I don’t think anybody’s gonna get f—king paid,” Ward said. “I think these dudes are gonna f—king fight for free.”
Ward, a Bellator veteran who retired from MMA only a few months ago, sensed something was up the minute he accepted the Hendricks fight in September.
“I told [my manager] something was wrong from the f—king start,” Ward said. “From day one, I said, ‘This ain’t right, dude. This fight’s not gonna happen.’
“[WBKFF] never did a show before, no one knew where the money was coming from to back this sh-t. It was too good to be true. If it looks like it’s too good to be true, that’s because it probably is.”
Ward said at one point, WBKFF told him the fight was off due to a breach of contract. But then it said the fight was possibly back on. Ward seemingly wanted nothing to do with the situation.
“They told me that the fight wasn’t gonna happen,” he said. “I went into work and said, ‘Hey, the fight’s not gonna happen, I don’t have to be here.’ Then they said maybe it’s on, and it’s just a clusterf—k.”
Ward said he would’ve fought for even $75,000 flat, but once WBKFF offered him only $30,000, it was an easy decision to call the fight off.
“I would have to miss f—king time off work,” Ward said. “Who knows if they were even gonna pay me $30,000? There’s too much sh-t up in the air.”
Ward still wants to fight, and he said his team is in talks with Bare Knuckle FC, a different bare-knuckle promotion that launched this year and has thus far put on three shows.
“That’s where I’m going,” Ward said. “My manager is talking to them as we speak.”
Ward wants to get back into the ring as soon as possible, because he’s still in shape from his Hendricks fight camp.
“I hope sooner than late,” Ward said. “I’m in good shape. I’m lean, I’m shredded up. I wanted to fight. … I was really excited (for the WBKFF 1 fight).
“I feel like I let everybody down by not doing this. But I gotta look out for me.”
Despite the frustration WBKFF allegedly caused him, Ward has no plans to take legal action against the promotion.
“It’s been such a f—king headache, I’m just f—king moving on,” Ward said. “I’m going to this other fight league hopefully, and I’m just gonna leave this sh-t behind me.”