Shawne Merriman Pulls out of Bare Knuckle Fighting Debut over Contract Dispute

Tim Daniels@TimDanielsBRFeatured ColumnistNovember 7, 2018

HOLLYWOOD, CA - AUGUST 06:  Shawne Merriman attends Warner Bros. Pictures And Gravity Pictures' Premiere of 'The Meg' at TCL Chinese Theatre IMAX on August 6, 2018 in Hollywood, California.  (Photo by Christopher Polk/Getty Images)
Christopher Polk/Getty Images

Former NFL linebacker Shawne Merriman announced Tuesday he withdrew from a bout against Mike Bourke previously scheduled for the inaugural World Bare Knuckle Fighting Federation card Friday at the Casper Events Center in Casper, Wyoming.

Merriman posted a statement on Instagram about a contract dispute with the promotion:

"I know you guys were waiting on my debut but it's not happening, at least not right now. These last 9 weeks I found out a lot about myself and what I'm willing to do to get what I ultimately want. I refuse to compromise what I bring to the table for anybody. I put in an insanely amount of work to put on a good showing and unfortunately I had to deal with people who don't like to honor guaranteed contracts. Big things are coming I promise you that, even bigger now than what I planned before."

He added further comments on Twitter:

Shawne Merriman @shawnemerriman

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”.

Merriman retired from football in 2013 after an eight-year NFL career that included stops with the San Diego Chargers, who selected him in the first round of the 2005 draft, and the Buffalo Bills.

The 34-year-old University of Maryland product's resume featured three Pro Bowl selections, one All-Pro nod and the 2005 Defensive Rookie of the Year Award. He racked up 45.5 sacks in 75 games.

In August, he announced his decision to sign with WBKFF, per Brett Okamoto of ESPN.com.

"Right now, this is the best opportunity for what I want to do," Merriman said. "I've been kicking tires for years. This is a good place for me to start. I'm looking forward to having some fun out there."

The promotion lists Brennan Ward vs. Johny Hendricks as the main event for Friday night's now-Merriman-less card.

Merriman told Arash Markazi of ESPN.com last week the fight was "up in the air" but that he's eventually "going to fight."