Is Dan Henderson Heading To Strikeforce?

Elton HobsonCorrespondent IOctober 23, 2009

LAS VEGAS - JULY 11:  (R-L) Dan Henderson connects with a right to Mike Bisping during their middleweight bout during UFC 100 on July 11, 2009 in Las Vegas, Nevada.  (Photo by Jon Kopaloff/Getty Images)

“What is your favourite fight of all time?”

When asked this question in the past, my answer has never changed: Quinton ‘Rampage” Jackson vs. Dan Henderson, from UFC 75.

In terms of all time classics, it’s not as well known a fight. It’s rarely brought up in internet discussion of “all time best” fight. But for my money, there isn’t a more exciting, evenly matched, and intensely contested display of this sport we call Mixed Martial Arts then Rampage’s clash with Hendo.

For five rounds, the two men tore into each other. The fight went into every area, and tested every aspect of both men’s game. We saw a virtuoso display of versatility and of heart from both men, the two most important qualities in any MMA fighter. For 25 minutes, the two men went to war. By the time it was over, Jackson had shown he wanted it more, reached that extra inch deeper, and pulled out the decision win to retain his LHW championship.

For my money, easily one of the greatest fights in MMA history.

And as of right now, the future of either man in the UFC appears uncertain at best. 

We all know about Jackson’s well publicised problems with Dana White and departure to star in the upcoming “A-Team” remake - a walkout that has put an entire season of TUF and a hugely hyped, big money fight with Rashad Evans on ice for the time being. Losing a guaranteed PPV draw and megastar like Rampage has to be a blow for the UFC, already straining under their ambitious PPV schedule and the pressure of past PPV successes.

The bad news keeps on coming, however. This week, the news broke that negotiations between Dan Henderson and the UFC have broken down, raising questions about his future in the company. As of this writing, negotiations between the two are described as “dead” by no less an authority then Dana White himself.

As they usually do, contract blowups like this open up lots of discussion about just what the future may hold, in this case for the PRIDE and UFC standout. Unlike Quinton Jackson, Henderson isn’t leaving to start an acting career anytime soon - for all his amazing accomplishments as a fighter, he has the personality of a plywood board and the charisma to match (except when he called Bisping a “little bitch” - that was just badass).

So what does that leave? For many people, it leaves Strikeforce.

There’s lots of talk that Hendo, dissatisfied with the UFC, will look for greener pastures in Strikeforce, already making a major push to become the #2 MMA organization in North America with this November’s “Fedor vs. Rogers” on CBS. Frank Shamrock can smell the money in a Shamrock/Hendo rematch on CBS -and has twittered about it non-stop since word of the contract impasse surfaced. Speculation of such has since run rampant - especially after Dana White confirmed that Henderson’s manager was spotted by him having lunch with Strikeforce CEO Scott Coker.

Is Henderson going to Strikeforce?

I don’t think so. For one, we recently learned that details of the contract negotiations between Hendo and the UFC - the sticking point of which seems to be Henderson’s demand for a seven figure signing bonus. Once again, the UFC has named their own price and refused to budge - hence the current situation.

If true, such a demand is extraordinarily exuberant and borderline unrealistic on Hendo’s part. Make no mistake - Dan Henderson is one of the sports true greats, and deserves to be very well taken care of. He should be paid comparably to any other of the sport’s elite LHW’s. I feel like 200,000 to show and 200,000 to win is a fair price for the services of the former Olympic level wrestler - but I know dick about sport’s management, so take from that what you will.

But a seven figure signing bonus? C’mon man, that’s just asking too much.

Until this past summer’s TUF season and Henderson’s appearance on UFC 100, it was arguable that Henderson was even a major MMA PPV star, or even tremendously well known outside of the hardcore fans. No doubt representing USA on reality TV, then shutting Bisping’s lights off with an all time KO on the biggest UFC card ever opened a great many eyes - which is the biggest shame of all of this. Hendo is on the verge of being a huge MMA star in his home and native land, despite what the future held for him in terms of fights. Whether it was another bout with Anderson Silva or a title eliminator with Nate Marquardt, it was only big fights and further exposure on the horizon for the Team Quest founder.

But now - who knows? My gut tells me that like “Rampage”, we’ll see Henderson back in the UFC again before too long. Is it wishful thinking again - or is Hendo really Strikeforce bound? What do you think?