Henderson set for free agency?

November 29, 2015

With his split decision win over Jorge Masvidal this past Saturday in South Korea, Benson Henderson became a free agent.  At the end of his contract with the UFC, Henderson appears set to test the free agency market of MMA.  What will he find?

The former WEC and UFC lightweight champion is an attractive competitor for any organization.  Bellator comes to mind when thinking of other organizations that might have the bankroll and notoriety to make a run at Henderson.  Other fighters such as Phil Davis and Josh Koshcheck have made the jump from the UFC to Bellator.

I would argue that Henderson is a bigger free agent than Davis or Koscheck.  He can still pull off some exciting fights and it’s a matter of what organization will compensate him for what he believes he is worth.  At 32 years of age, he still has some time left in the sport where he can still fight at a high level.

Perhaps it is fitting that Henderson’s last fight was in South Korea.  Henderson, who is half Korean, wanted to fight in Korea, his mother’s homeland.  If it was his last fight for the UFC, it was a good way to send him off.

Although Henderson indicated that he’d retire in the UFC, it doesn’t mean he would fight the rest of his career in the company.

Henderson made the most in the UFC when he was the lightweight champion.  He made $110,000 when he dropped the championship to Anthony Pettis in August 2013. Prior to that, he made $100K/$100K in a split decision win over Gilbert Melendez in April 2013.

His last reported purse was $48,000 this past January.  He also made $48,000 in a loss to Rafael dos Anjos in August 2014.  He started out $17,000 and $17,000 for the UFC in August 2011.

It would not be a stretch to say that Henderson would want to improve upon his current $48K/$48K status.  While he may be able to make up enough of his salary through sponsors (assuming he does not return to the UFC), he would probably want to fight in an organization that could provide him TV exposure and quality fights.

Certainly, Bellator could provide Henderson with both exposure and fights.  Henderson would be one of the top-named stars for the Viacom-owned company and would be a possible headliner the company could target if it intends to expand into Asia.

The other organization that might target Henderson is the Asian-based One FC.  Although a long shot, Victor Cui’s organization is big in Asia with sponsors and tv deals.  Of course, the company is not in America.

Henderson’s situation is uncommon in MMA.  The UFC has tied up some of its fighters to lengthy contracts (e.g. Paige VanZant , Daniel Cormier and Chad Mendes come to mind).  The UFC has matching rights in most of its fight contracts which allow it a right to match any offer made by another organization in order to keep the fighter.  Henderson has some value and leverage in negotiating with other organizations which may cause the UFC to make a tough decision.

3 Responses to “Henderson set for free agency?”

  1. joe on November 30th, 2015 5:17 AM

    Benson is my favorite fighter in the UFC. I’ll watch him fight wherever he goes

  2. Panama on November 30th, 2015 8:12 PM

    I would really like to see Bellator snatch up Bendo, so they can continue brand building with him. There’s some great fights they can set him up with. Bellator is attractive because Bendo will be able secure his own sponsors again and Bellator doesn’t have a bullshit tax like the UFC does.

    Because of the Reebok deal, I have predicted moreover that we will be seeing a mass exodus from the UFC over to Bellator. Watch and see.

  3. joe on December 1st, 2015 3:46 AM

    I don’t think he’s going to move over just because he’s so determined to get the belt back… But then again, he just had a kid so it might be a financial decision

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