Strikeforce has just confirmed that they have signed former UFC fighter Dan Henderson to a four-fight, 16-month deal. The San Jose-based organization has been quite active in the free agency market, and adding a competitor with Henderson’s skill set will certainly add depth to their talent pool.
“I’m very happy to be a part of Strikeforce and their partnership with CBS and SHOWTIME,” said the 39-year-old Henderson, who represented the United States in Greco-Roman wrestling in both the 1992 and 1996 Summer Olympics.
“Strikeforce and its growing roster of world class talent will offer me many exciting fights and has the ability to bring many new fans from all around the world to mixed martial arts. I am grateful to (Strikefoce CEO) Scott Coker for the opportunity to help make this happen and for treating me with the utmost respect throughout our negotiations.”
Aaron Crecy, Hendo’s business partner and manager, confirmed that the deal was inked on Saturday, but would not go into specifics of the agreement. Although most believed Henderson would ultimately re-up with the UFC, it appears that Strikefore’s offer was much sweeter.
“Dan chose to sign with Strikeforce after careful consideration,” Crecy told Sherdog on Monday. “He approached the process with an open mind, and over the course of the past couple months became increasingly impressed with the Strikeforce organization. It was not a decision that Dan took lightly.”
Although UFC president Dana White and Henderson have remained professional throughout this negotiation process, it will be interesting to see what the brash prez has to say about his biggest competitor’s latest acquisition.
“We offered him a very, very good contract. A contract that’s more than fair and very respectable for everything that he’s accomplished in this sport,” White stated earlier this month.
The UFC stated that they would stand firm on their offer for Henderson’s services, most likely believing that there was no better business and/or career move than to return to the Octagon.
Well, Strikeforce apparently offered him something that the UFC couldn’t. Most likely it is the ability fight in multiple organizations, allowing Hendo to return to Japan where he experienced the best years of his mixed martial arts career.
However, at least on Henderson’s side, there are no hard feelings as he gave his former employer a shout-out in his press release.
“I’d also like to thank [Dana White] and the UFC for the opportunities they provided me and I wish them ongoing success,” Henderson added. “I’ll continue to watch their events and I hope they’ll tune in to my fights in Strikeforce. After all, I’m a true fan of our fantastic sport and would love only to see MMA continue to grow.”
However, their deals with CBS and Showtime certainly don’t hurt either.
“Dan likes to be a maverick, and I think part of the attraction to Strikeforce was to be a part of something that broadens the growth of the sport within the U.S. and globally,” said Crecy. “The fact that Strikeforce offers a network television platform in CBS as well as a premium cable partner in Showtime was particularly appealing to him.
“It delivers an incredible opportunity for Dan to perform live before an audience of millions of present and future MMA fans. Also, (Strikeforce CEO) Scott Coker treated Dan with a great deal of respect and integrity throughout the negotiations, and that certainly affected his decision. Dan is very excited to be a part of the Strikeforce family.”
Henderson could debut as early as April for the organization. That is around the time they are expected to host their second broadcast on CBS.
According to Sherdog’s report, Henderson could be granted an immediate title shot against Strikeforce middleweight champion Jake Shields. However, as we all know, Henderson enjoys competing at multiple weight classes as well, so his sights are also set on matchups against light heavyweight champ Gegard Mousasi and even WAMMA heavyweight title holder Fedor Emelianenko.
“Dan has always been motivated by the challenge of competing above his natural weight class, and he would certainly be honored to square off with Fedor at some point,” said Crecy.