Former welterweight champion Johny Hendricks is coming back from retirement to fight longtime Bellator contender Brennan Ward in a bare-knuckle boxing match. The fight has been agreed to take place at 185 pounds and at the inaugural show of the World Bare Knuckle Fighting Federation (WBKFF), which takes place Nov. 9 at the Casper Events Center in Casper, Wyoming. The fight was reported by Fightbook MMA.
Hendricks, 35, announced his retirement from MMA in June. He last fought at UFC 217 last year when he was finished by young 185-pound prospect Paulo Costa via TKO in the second round.
And according to Hendricks, this transition into another realm of fighting is not a one-off venture.
“Man, you know what? I have a feeling I could do it for a while,” Hendricks said on this past week’s episode of The MMA Hour (via MMA Fighting). “My first coach ever in MMA, he was a bare-knuckle world champ in Thailand. He showed me a lot of techniques, how to strengthen your hand and all of that kind of stuff, how you can actually punish the body and where to hit on the arms, this and this, what to look for.”
“So I’m sort of going back to that stage as well, where to hit on the arms, how to make sure that after the first round — let’s say it goes past the first round — that he can no longer use his right arm because it hurts too bad, or his left arm, because I keep punishing it the way [I want to with] some of the gameplans I have in my head already. Those things can help.”
“I think what’s going to happen is he’s going to be looking to land that right hand, just as I’m looking to land my left hand,” Hendricks said. “The only difference is that, with bare knuckle, you can’t throw as hard as you want to. It’s about accuracy, and that’s what really makes me excited about this, because I am a very accurate puncher.
“My accuracy is very well whenever it comes to seeing where the punch lands, where it needs to land, and sort of what comes next. … This is what [my coach Tony Cabello] has done forever. He grew up boxing.”
The event is scheduled to be aired on pay-per-view and will be available to purchase on FITE TV and it also features Chris Leben vs. Phil Baroni and former American football linebacker Shawne Merriman whom WBKFF signed last month will fight Mike Bourke.