Bas Rutten is defending himself against scrutiny from fighters like Johny Hendricks and Chris Leben after fighters were unpaid for competing at World Bareknuckle Fighting Federation’s inaugural event.
“I fought for $2,000 over in Japan, I started with that. I know how hard it is for fighters. So for a fighter to believe that I might have known anything about it,” recently Rutten told MMA Junkie Radio. “If there was any red flag I would have called it off right away and I would have told the fighter’s ‘don’t fight.’”
“I told Johny, as I did all the fighters — you can ask every single person, Jimmy Lennon Jr. Everybody involved I told, ‘I saw the bank statements’ because I asked my lawyer, ‘hey listen, I need to see proof of funds,’” he expressed. “Once I see the money is there I’m going to be okay with it.”
Rutten brought bank statements to MMA Junkie Radio to prove there was initially money to pay the fighters. “My number one priority is that the fighters get paid,” he insisted.
“The company was just taken advantage of,” Rutten explained, primarily blaming matchmaker Paul Taylor. Rutten detailed how the fighters were offered far more money than WBKFF could afford to pay and how the UFC Hall of Famer was forced to renegotiate contracts to make the event viable.
“Online they go, ‘either Bas is in with the scam or he’s not.’ What about the third option? What about we’re all telling the truth? That is what I still believe,” he added.
Rutten insisted he does not blame the fighters for feeling they were taken advantage of. The former three-time King of Pancrase openweight champion stood by WBKFF founder Tom Stankiewicz. He said Stankiewicz hopes to pay the fighters approximately half their purse once he gets out of prison for unrelated fraud charges. “Chris [Leben] is 100 percent right,” Rutten asserted. “I would do the same thing. Sue the company because Tom cannot use it. Trust me at this moment because he is in jail. This is a great time to do it because you need your money back.”
“I don’t blame anything on the fighter, but I’m [saying] don’t see him as a bad guy. Tom is really down. He lost it completely. He lost his company, over $500,000, all the tickets, everything is gone. He has a warehouse with gear that he can’t sell. Nobody — if it was a scam from the beginning — would do those things because [he would have]known he won’t have a second show.”
Prior to appearing on MMA Junkie Radio, Rutten addressed Hendricks’ critiques on Facebook.
“Wow, when some ignorant people believe this, I don’t really care, but once a fighter believes that?” he wrote. “Come on now Johny, not cool, you know I am there for you and the fighters.”
“Was listening to it on the way back and wow, sorry for jumping all over the place in this interview, guess I was more emotional then I thought,” he said in a separate post after visiting MMA Junkie Radio. “But it’s all true, so I am OK with it. George confirmed the amount of money in the bank. He saw the bank investigation paper as well when they froze the bank accounts, as well as the hospital admission papers, both those things some people said, didn’t happen and was a lie.”
The first and only WBKFF event took place on Nov. 9.