Earlier today (February 1, 2016), former UFC lightweight champion “Smooth” Benson Henderson announced that he would be taking his talents over to Scott Coker run Bellator MMA.
Riding a two fight win streak, Henderson fought out his contract with the UFC, ending it off with a split decision win over Jorge Masvidal last November.
After the fight with Masvidal, it was very clear that “Smooth” was a free agent, and with the Reebok sponsorship deal limiting UFC fighters, many had expected him to jump ship and he did just that.
Henderson was quick to thank the UFC, and President Dana White even commented on the news soon after it was announced.
The UFC president also seemed to take a shot at the former champion, seemingly implying that he has declined over time:
“The truth is we made him an offer that would have paid him substantially more – like not even in the same ballpark – than he’s getting now if he were to become world champion again, but he chose their deal, which offered more up front,” White said. “He’s a former world champion who’s ranked No. 15 now. We’re looking for top-5 guys, guys that are going from 15 to 1, not the other way around.”
At the end of the day, White admitted that he was happy for Henderson, wishing him all the best:
“But I’m honestly happy for Benson. I’m not angry. Who knows? This could be the last contract he ever signs. He got the right deal for him. He’s a great guy, and we wish him all the best.”
Did Henderson make the right decision in joining Bellator?