Former Pride and Strikeforce world champion Dan Henderson has seen better days throughout his illustrious nearly 14-year MMA career. “Hendo” has dropped three straight bouts in the Octagon and now sits light years away from the title shot he was once headed for against Jon Jones at UFC 151, the only UFC event to ever be canceled.
Henderson sprained his knee while training for Jones and his plan backfired in a big way when he was forced to pull out of the fight that he waited all of 2012 for. The veteran returned to action last February at UFC 157 against Lyoto Machida, but lost a rather uninspired split decision to “The Dragon.” Henderson came back four months later to fight fellow former champion Rashad Evans at UFC 161, losing another split decision.
A bad run had begun for “Hendo,” but things were about to get a lot worse.
He faced surging middleweight Vitor Belfort in the main event of November’s UFC Fight Night 32. Henderson was knocked out for the first time in his career after “The Phenom” literally lifted him off the ground with an uppercut before finishing the fight with another vicious headkick.
The crushing defeat left Henderson on the dreaded three-fight losing streak, and it couldn’t have come at a worse time. His contract with the UFC had run out, and his stock was at an all-time low after his recent efforts. Still, the 43-year-old “Hendo” thinks he has many good fights left to offer.
The promotion just doesn’t want to pay him that much to show up for them. He spoke up on today’s edition of “The MMA Hour” to detail the lowball offer the UFC sent his way:
“I was fairly surprised that it’s as far away as what I thought I fair offer would have been. I don’t know if I’d go so far as to say I was insulted, but I know what they’re trying to accomplish and trying to get everybody for as cheap as they can. That’s what they like to do. I don’t take it personally, but it was a lot lower than I expected. What I was asking for is a decent pay cut from what I was making. Which I thought was fair.”
Henderson went on to say that his proposed pay cut was more than 50 percent off of his old contract. He believes that this an unfortunate aftereffect of the UFC putting on too many shows, causing the product to become watered down:
“I think that they’re trying to slash it quite a bit more than that. So, I just feel that that’s not realistic from where it should be. But we’re working on it. I think, from what I’ve been hearing they’re trying to lower everyone’s purses win or lose, just because pay-per-view numbers aren’t as high as they used to be. They are having a lot more shows, a lot more pay-per-views, a lot more free cards, so obviously they’re going to do less PPVs when they’re offering so many more cards and shows. It’s just a little too watered down to get as many numbers as they used to on every pay-per-view card.”
“Hendo” may have a good point when he says the fighters are getting paid less because there are more and more shows that drive interest away from PPVs. But he also had a highly publicized spat with Dana White that ultimately lead to Henderson going to Strikeforce in 2010.
At this point in time, it’s hard to imagine the No. 6-ranked Henderson ever fighting for a title again, but there are some good rematches that could be exciting and nostalgic for fans of Pride. Another bout against Mauricio “Shogun” Rua, whom Henderson beat in an all-time great at UFC 139, could generate some interest, as would a trilogy-ending matchup with Wanderlei Silva. At the end of the day, Henderson just wants to come back and fight in the Octagon:
“I don’t want to go anywhere else, it’s not even in my mind right now and I don’t think they want me to go anywhere else either. It’s just something where we’re a little far apart, and we need to sit down and get it hashed out.”
Henderson may want nothing more than to return to the Octagon. But given his recent downward trend, it sounds like he and the UFC are miles apart in bargaining. Should the UFC bite the bullet and give “Hendo” one last run, or is it time for the great champion to hang up his gloves?
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