UFC title matches are usually reserved for headlining pay-per-view events, but that isn't the case for UFC lightweight champion Benson Henderson.
The UFC champ last defended his title at a UFC on Fox event in December and will be facing Strikeforce champion Gilbert Melendez later this month. The champion vs. champion match belongs on a pay-per-view card, but Henderson told MMA Fighting that competing on free TV doesn't bother him.
But just the number of people who tuned in for the main event, 5.5 million (he shortchanged himself), that's a lot of people. That smashes any pay-per-view numbers. A lot of guys talk about pay-per-view buys. I don't give a crap about pay-per-view stuff. I like fighting on the biggest platform and FOX is that platform.
It would be easy for Henderson to feel down about not being placed atop a major pay-per-view card, but it seems the UFC champion is looking at it with a "glass half full" mentality.
"I'm excited to be on FOX for the second time in a row," Henderson said. "I think that it shows the trust the UFC top brass and the FOX top brass have in me."
Henderson goes on to discuss how he competes in jiu-jitsu tournaments on a regular basis and loves competition. It's clear that competition is Henderson's main driving force in MMA as it would be very easy for him to complain about not headlining a pay-per-view show and not getting his cut of the revenue.
Even though Henderson won't be getting a cut of the pay-per-view buys, I believe this is still a smart strategy on his part.
By competing on free shows, Henderson is drastically increasing his fanbase. With so many viewers watching, it's hard for Henderson to not become a household name in the MMA world. With an increase in popularity, Henderson is making himself a bigger draw on pay-per-view and in turn a more profitable fighter in the long run.
I don't see too many UFC champions jumping at the chance to compete on Fox, but Henderson does make some valid points and it could be a huge benefit to a fighter in the long run. Perhaps we may see a few more title fights on free TV.