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Dakota Cochrane replaces Brennan Ward, meets former UFC champ Johny Hendricks in bare-knuckle fight

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World Bare Knuckle Fighting Federation (WBKFF) has been forced to make a change to its inaugural event’s main event two days before it’s set to take place.

Brennan Ward is out of the headlining slot, opposite Johny Hendricks, WBKFF announced in a press release Wednesday. The fight was was set to determine the promotion’s middleweight title. Ward pulled out of the fight because WBKFF wouldn’t “honor” his contract, he wrote in an Instagram post.

“I had to decline this fight and do what was best for me,” Ward, a former Bellator fighter, wrote.

Stepping up in his place on two day’s notice is MMA veteran Dakota Cochrane, WBKFF announced late Wednesday night.

“Johny Hendricks no longer wanted to fight Ward after all of the back-and-forth stuff (between Ward and WBKFF) yesterday,” WBKFF president Bas Rutten said Thursday in a statement sent to Bloody Elbow. “Johny just wanted to fight and didn’t want to risk not fighting (if things didn’t work out with Ward), so he accepted the fight against Dakota Cochrane.”

Cochrane is coming off a submission loss in MMA to Scott Futrell in July. Two months before, he beat The Ultimate Fighter alum Julian Lane. Cochrane fought six times in 2017, registering a 4-2 record throughout the year.

WBKFF 1 will mark Cochrane’s bare-knuckle boxing debut.

Hendricks is also making his bare-knuckle debut on the card. After a rough end to his UFC career, he retired from MMA this past summer. Hendricks is 1-5 in his last five MMA bouts, including recent losses to Paulo Costa and Tim Boetsch, plus a lone win over Hector Lombard, all at 185 pounds. Hendricks’ career highlight was narrowly defeating Robbie Lawler for the vacant 170-pound title in early 2014, just months after falling short to then-longtime titleholder Georges St-Pierre by controversial split decision.

WBKFF 1 takes place Friday at Casper Events Center in Casper, Wyoming. Chris Leben and Phil Baroni meet in the co-headliner. The event also features the first round of an eight-man lightweight tournament, in which the winner will receive $100,000.

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