Dan Henderson and UFC Clash: Should He Stay or Should He Go Now?

Ken FossAnalyst IOctober 20, 2009

While the MMA world has been devoid of earthshaking news lately, one thing with some legs appears to be some contract brouhaha between Dan Henderson and ZUFFA.

Henderson, who is 39, has been outwardly vocal to his merits at a rematch with current divisional kingpin Anderson Silva after destroying Michael Bisping at UFC 100. However, after underwhelming fan interest, and Vitor Belfort defeating Rich Franklin at 103. It appears that he won't be getting his wish.

Instead, the UFC have allowed one of their top-five middleweights to lapse onto the open market, allowing Strikeforce to move in and potentially make an offer.

Fans have been quick to take sides, some depicting Dan Henderson as a has been never was, who ZUFFA is actually releasing due to ridiculous contract demands. While others are quick to jump on the UFC for continuing to underpay its athletes.  

At 39, Dan Henderson's best years as a fighter are coming to an end, and this next contract will likely be the end for him as a title contending entity. While his nickname for a while was “Hollywood,” there is likely no Cung Le style exit strategy for the wrestler with the iron chin and nuclear weapon of a right hand.

He'll need this next contract to take care of him well into his 60s, and with the recent explosion that has come from rival Strikeforce teaming up with FEG, and M-1, now is the perfect time to wrench as much money as humanly possible from the Nevada based promotion.

While we as fans have placed a premium on fighters going to the UFC to “prove themselves” we also want to see fighters paid up to value with modern athletes of our era.

In a perfect world Dan Henderson would be paid what he's asking. However with ZUFFA placing a premium on the brand, over the fighter, this is unlikely to happen.

In the future we'll see a lot of these same situations as fighters will go to the UFC to test themselves only to receive modest pay for top quality work two or three times a year.

Many more will continue to look at the Strikeforce's open door consortium approach as the best way to dramatically improve the number of fights they'll get in a year, exposure to the casual fan, while getting similar pay to what they could get in the UFC.

While ZUFFA will play to their install base of fans with lines like “if you go to Strikefarce your not a real fighter” putting the screws to fighters images. In the end top fighters will (and should) go wherever the most money greets them.


The battle between Strikeforce and the UFC will in the end amount to just that.


Who will go above and beyond for every free agent fighter from here on out?


While Dan Henderson may just be a 39-year-old top-five middleweight, the ramifications of his decision could change the way fighters, and fans look at the seriousness of a Strikeforce promotion who not that long ago were putting on Duane Ludwig vs. Sammy Morris main events.


And down the road, that could lead to big things, for the world of MMA.


For now, however, this is simply a fighter using his leverage to gain the most money possible.


A novel concept indeed.