Chris Leben is not certain how much Bas Rutten knew about World Bare Knuckle Fighting Federation not paying their fighters, but he doesn’t believe any of it paints Rutten in a positive light.
Leben spoke to the Pull No Punches podcast with Kajan Johnson and Shakiel Mahjouri about his planned lawsuit against WBKFF owner Tom Stankiewicz. Leben also touched on company president Bas Rutten’s involvement.
“I’ve known Bas for 20 years, love him. I have always had a great relationship with Bas,” Leben insisted. “Best case scenario: Bas knew we weren’t going to get paid in a timely fashion before we all flew out to fight in Wyoming, because the bank account was suspended before that and he knew it. Worst case scenario: he knew we were never going to get paid at all. Adding, “The one thing I will say is, as of up to right now, Bas is still standing behind and supporting the owner Tom.”
The long-time fan-favorite fighter had reportedly sued WBKFF for $90,000 in unpaid wages. Leben, 38, says it took a while to track Stankiewicz down, but he is finally ready to serve him legal paperwork. “The owner Tom [Stankiewicz] here in a couple days will be going to prison and we will be able to serve him,” he said. “We haven’t been able to track him down to serve him the paperwork.”
Leben said Stankiewicz is going to prison on a separate charge of real estate fraud, although Bloody Elbow has yet to verify those allegations. “If you talk to him or Bas, he borrowed $2.5 million from some people. They thought he was going to invest it but he spent it all on promotion and it was a big misunderstanding,” Leben expressed. “According to — I don’t know — the federal government that is sending him to federal prison for fraud, it was fraud.”
During his UFC career, ‘The Crippler’ was famously embroiled in a feud with his TUF co-stars Bobby Southworth and Josh Kosheck. One infamous scene from the season involved Southworth calling Leben a “fatherless bastard.” When asked about their present relationship, Leben told the show he made amends with Southworth not one but twice.
“I don’t have time to hold onto s—t from 15-years-ago,” he asserted. “That being said, I’ve grown a lot. I think if somebody said that to me now, I’d say, ‘Okay, so?’ At the time, in my early 20s, dealing with some issues, that guy certainly knew what to say.”
“I saw Bobby not too long ago. We did the reunion for The Ultimate Fighter,” he shared. “We all went out and had dinner. Randy [Couture] was there. Chuck [Liddell] was there. It was a month or two before Chuck’s fight. Bobby was there and we were good. Apparently there was another reunion which I don’t remember. Bobby says we squashed it then. I must have been there,” Leben chuckled. “I don’t remember that we had had one eight years ago.”
It was a moment the veteran fighter appreciated. “It was cool,” he confessed. “It was behind us. Both of us have been through so much since then. It’s one of those things where people still always talk about it... but I’ve lived like 10 lives since that s—t happened.”
Leben also confirmed he will fight Brennan Ward at BKFC 6 — headlined by Artem Lobov vs. Paulie Malignaggi — on June 22.