Leben Sues WBKFF For $90,000 In Unpaid Salary
Chris Leben is suing World Bare Knuckle Fighting Federation (WBKFF) for $90,000 in unpaid salary, according to a recent report by Forbes. Leben filed the suit in San Diego Superior Court this past Monday.
The Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) veteran signed on with WBKFF last summer and competed at the promotion's first and only event this past November in Casper, Wyoming. While Leben ended up defeating MMA veteran Phil Baroni via first-round TKO, "Crippler" has yet to be paid for his services.
Out of the $100,000 Leben was owed in salary, WBKFF only dished out $10,000 in the form of a down deposit, leaving Leben's bank account $90k short.
Sounds shady, right? Well, it is.
There was much speculation leading up to WBKFF’s debut that the promotion had no intention of paying the fighters for their work. In fact, former Bellator MMA fighter Brennan Ward was expected to fight Johny Hendricks at the inaugural event, but last-second contract changes forced him to withdraw. Hendricks ended up fighting Dakota Cochrane and lost via second-round TKO.
Former NFL defensive star Shawn Merriman was also expected to fight at WBKFF 1 in his combat debut, but even he had trouble securing a contractual agreement with the company. Merriman posted the following message to his fans after pulling out just a few days before the event was scheduled to take place:
Some things are non negotiable...like your time and health.— Shawne Merriman (@shawnemerriman) November 6, 2018
The truth about the fight is contracts weren’t honored period, anything else is completely false. I believe people who followed me long enough know I wouldn’t just “back out”.— Shawne Merriman (@shawnemerriman) November 6, 2018
Making matters worse is the fact that former WBKFF owner Tomasz Stankiewicz, who is named as a defendant in Leben’s suit, was sentenced to one year in prison earlier this month after pleading guilty to wire fraud in Illinois back in 2018.
Leben’s suit states that Stankiewicz “never intended to compensate” the fighters.
MMA legend Bas Rutten, who served as WBKFF’s president, tried to save some face and provide clarity on the financial debacle late last year with the following Facebook post:
As of now, Leben is the only fighter from the WBKFF 1 card to sue the company for unpaid salary. Given all the evidence and shadiness that has surfaced over the past couple of months, it’s highly likely that “Crippler” will walk away with a good chunk of his owed $90,000, if not all of it.
Stick with Mania for further updates.