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Thoughts On Dan Henderson Signing With Strikeforce

Early this morning, Strikehouse sent out a press release that simply said, “MMA Superstar Dan Henderson Signs With Strikeforce.”

In a deal that was thought to be for sure weeks ago, Henderson is finally on the Strikeforce brand. Henderson had a solid run in his second UFC go-round. He lost his first two fights against Rampage Jackson and Anderson Silva, but rallied to win his next three over Rousimar Palhares, Rich Franklin, and Michael Bisping in MMA’s version of the shot heard ’round the world.

Henderson was front and center on MMA’s biggest ever stage in the US at UFC 100. He had a grudge match that was building for several months on the Ultimate Fighter with Bisping. Bisping was so unlikable that Henderson’s straight forward personality didn’t hurt the dynamic at all. Henderson was all business. And when he knocked out Bisping at UFC 100, he was made in front of new eyeballs.

But in an odd business move by the UFC, Henderson fought Bisping on the last fight of his deal. He was a free agent. Considering all the UFC had done to make that fight with Bisping mean something, it was hard to understand why they didn’t get him signed up and ready to go quickly to see how much his stardom had increased. The rumors were that Dana White thought Henderson was asking for more than he was worth and at one point, White declared that they had stopped negotiating with Henderson, probably hoping to get him to come down on his demands and also leave Strikeforce with a bit of leverage with Henderson, and thus see if they decreased what they were going to offer him. He was playing hardball.

Now, several months later, Henderson is with Strikeforce, the same brand that signed Fedor Emelianenko away from the UFC and the one with the CBS television deal. With the UFC hurting for main eventers, it’s mind boggling to think that they’d let Henderson go, especially after his star making performance at UFC 100.

When the deal was announced, MMA Fanhouse published quotes from White saying that he pushed Henderson into signing, and also that if they really wanted him, they would’ve just signed him.

“For the money he wanted, he’s not worth it,” he said. “He’s not a big pay-per-view star, he’s not a big attraction, and he’s not going to sell out arenas. He wants way too much and he doesn’t bring anything to the table.”

If that was White’s overall read on Henderson, it’s a wonder why he put Henderson in the spot that he did, able to score a huge knockout on the UFC’s biggest ever day. It seems like maybe he never thought Henderson would win and it would be Bisping who was made instead. If that was the bet, the UFC lost this time.

Josh Gross interviewed Henderson today and asked him about White’s quote. Here’s what Henderson said:

That’s Dana’s response. We’ll end up seeing if it’s true or not in Strikeforce. Pay-per-view-wise, I haven’t had the opportunity to prove what I can do being the main event since The Ultimate Fighter. I would say my five fights that I had in the UFC, everyone of them was sold out I believe. I’m sure that I had a little bit to do with that.

After UFC 100, I thought they could’ve done a lot with Henderson. Because of his ability to either fight at 205 or 185, he was a money player in the semi-main event role. Was he a true main eventer? Probably not, unless he was fighting for a title. But he would’ve been a strong second on most UFC cards.

What I think happened is that Anderson Silva for whatever reason just didn’t see a second fight with Henderson as a match-up he wanted. You’d think that you’d want to fight a guy who you already beat who will also give you possibly some great exposure because of his highlight reel knockout. And when Silva balked, it left White with no marquee fight for Henderson that would’ve made him worth what he was asking. Henderson said in the interview with Gross that they continued to offer him a fight with Nate Marquardt which would’ve been a dangerous one for him and one that might’ve been more of a lateral move than anything else, which made it risky.

White and Henderson stalemated each other. I always figured that Henderson would wait it out a bit and wait for White to come calling because of all the main events that are dropping because of injuries. But Henderson decided to move forward with Strikeforce.

He has one really strong fight in my opinion with Strikeforce Light Heavyweight Champion Gegard Mousasi. I think that is a fight many people will want to see. I’m not sure sure I want to see him with Jake Shields, but I’d love to see him in a striking battle with Cung Le. There are definitely a few opportunities for him.

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7 thoughts on “Thoughts On Dan Henderson Signing With Strikeforce

  1. The only way this doesn’t make Dana look like a total fool is if Hendo fights and dominates Mousasi. That will at least make the UFC look like the stronger brand.

    Other than that, this is a dumb move by UFC. Like you said, why let a guy who just scored perhaps the biggest knockout in the promotions history, set him up for a title shot in the near future, then let him walk? Even if he didn’t fight Anderson, set him up against Marquardt, which would be a great 3rd or 2nd fight on a card (maybe the weak-ass 108 card) and then that guy gets Silva-Belfort winner.

  2. Actually, if he beats Mousasi and helps Strikeforce gain more eye balls, it probably makes White look worse.

    But the Marquardt thing was something Henderson didn’t want. It looks like he wanted only Silva. And if they were going to pay him what he wanted, they couldn’t risk him with Marquardt anyway more than likely.

    I don’t get Silva though. He’s seemingly all about the money, but makes such terrible business decisions. A second fight with Hendo, if pushed properly, makes him more money than any other fight, except probably his fight with Griffin. And this is over a guy he’s already beat. It seemed like such an easy decision.

  3. I think it will at least make UFC fighters look superior since Hendo wasn’t even a Champion under the UFC at either weight classes, yet he could easily be both in Strikeforce by beating just one guy.

    I recall an interview where Hendo said he would be willing to fight Nate if a title shot was a sure thing for the winner. I could be wrong though.

    In regard to Silva, I think he wanted keep messing around at 205 while a true contender at 185 was determined. For some reason rematches just don’t seem appealing to him.

  4. In that sense, yes, but I’m not sure anyone thinks they aren’t already.

    In the interview with Gross that I linked, he specifically says that they kept trying to set him up with Marquardt, which is what he didn’t want.

    But a true contender was determined. He just didn’t want to fight him. Silva’s mentality may simply be that rematches aren’t right, especially because it wasn’t that competitive. But his instinct was probably wrong in this case being that Hendo was the third hottest fighter coming out of that show. It was easy money.

  5. I’m not disagreeing with you in the sense that letting Hendo leave was a smart move.

    In fact I think Dana should have paid him, and use Hendo’s pay increase as a chance to start increasing the share all fighters get, which in my opinion is too low.

  6. Who knows what Silva is doing now. Looks like they are going to have to move back his fight with Belfort again.

    Also, I heard rumors about a Jones/Cain fight that you had mentioned you’d like to see.

    Vera/Lil Nog is coming too.

  7. I’m in no hurry to see Silva fight Belfort. I would much rather Belfort fight Marquardt.

    Jones/Cane would be great. I think Lil Nog is going to abuse Vera.

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