There are three guaranteed things in life: death, taxes, and MMA fighters coming out of retirement. Johny Hendricks and Brennan Ward are the latest — heading to the ring for a bare knuckle fight.
Former UFC welterweight champion Johny Hendricks announced his retirement from the sport of MMA this past June, saying he wanted to focus on family and coaching wrestling. However, late Monday it was announced that “Big Rigg” would be making his bare knuckle boxing debut against fellow former retiree Brennan Ward in the World Bare Knuckle Fighting Federation.
Brennan Ward had been scheduled to fight at Bellator 207 in October, but informed Bellator of his wish to retire from MMA instead. Ward was a standout welterweight in Bellator known for his entertaining fights. However, he’d hit a small slump of late, going 0-2 in 2017 before retiring in 2018.
Hendricks on the other hand ended his UFC career on a 1-5 skid that saw him lose to the likes of Stephen Thompson, Neil Magny, and his last bout at UFC 217 against Paulo Costa. That came after Hendricks was on top of the MMA world following a very close fight against Georges St-Pierre, and winning the world title against Robbie Lawler. He’d lose to title to Lawler in a rematch, however, and never hit the same heights.
Bare knuckle boxing has been on the rise in America of late, with the sport being legalized in multiple states. The biggest promotion thus far has been the Wyoming-based Bare Knuckle Fighting Championship. The organization recently held its second event, going down last month in Mississippi, and has featured multiple UFC veterans including Ricco Rodriguez and Bec Rawlings.
Enter the competition. The World Bare Knuckle Fighting Federation is looking to be a big name in the United States, having signed former UFC veterans Chris Leben and Phil Baroni, among others. They also signed former NFL Pro-Bowl linebacker Shawne Merriman to a deal last month.
WBKFF 1 is set to take place November 9. More details on the card should follow in the coming weeks.