I never took the possibility of Dan Henderson signing with Strikeforce seriously. To me, it was a ploy to get more money out of the UFC.
The side with deeper pockets almost always wins the negotiation battle. You put the Yankees against the Royals and the player is coming to New York.
The UFC against Strikeforce should go the same way, but this is the second time in less than six months a marquee free agent turned down Zuffa in favor of Scott Coker's "regional promotion."
Are we seeing a power shift play out before our eyes? Dana White
wants the MMA
world to believe he passed on Henderson. The price was too high for a fighter who is not a PPV draw. It's as simple as that.
While true to a certain extent, there is more to the story. The UFC badly wanted to resign Henderson. There is a serious lack of top talent right now within the organization due to injury problems.
Loretta Hunt points out
that this past Friday, Henderson was offered a bout at UFC 109
in February to face Nate Marquardt. The UFC did not simply let Henderson go. He chose to sign with Strikeforce.
One of the interesting subplots to this story is the UFC's decision to ban Clinch Gear
from its events.According to Henderson
, the UFC banned his MMA clothing company, because he would not resign with the promotion.
When you combine this with Henderson being passed over for a title shot in favor of Vitor Belfort, who he defeated, it's easy to see why he chose to sign with Strikeforce. The UFC did not treat Henderson with the type of respect he felt he deserved.
The larger issue here is whether we're beginning to see cracks in UFC's armor. The recent string of injuries has shown just how vulnerable even they can be. The signing of a 39-year-old, slightly above average PPV draw may not seem like a huge deal, but it sends a message.
The stigma of signing with Strikeforce is gone. It has landed the last two major free agents.
While the UFC was busy signing Frank Trigg, Dennis Hallman, and Phil Baroni, Strikeforce snatched up Fedor Emelianenko
and Dan Henderson. It does not matter if you offer more money, at the end of the day, it comes down to where a fighter ends up. Strikeforce is winning the bidding wars.
Now, the question is whether Strikeforce can transition into a PPV business model to afford the contracts.