Dana White: “If I wanted [Dan Henderson], he’d be in the UFC”

Written by Tom Ngo
December 7th, 2009

Most MMA enthusiasts thought UFC president Dana White would go on another one of his infamous tirades following Dan Henderson’s signing with rival Strikeforce. However, the outspoken Prez claims if they really wanted to retain the veteran’s services, they would have. In fact, White states that he pushed Hendo to jump ship.

“He’s happy, but the reality is that I pushed him into signing that deal,” White told FanHouse’s Mike Chiappetta. “I told people over the weekend that he’d sign within the next week.”

White states that after several meetings with Team Henderson, it was clear they were asking for more than what the UFC was willing to pay and that’s when White LOWERED his original/last/firm/only offer, thus, making it a lot easier for Henderson to make his decision to join the San Jose-based promotion.

“Here’s the reality, if I wanted him, he’d be in the UFC,” White added. “It’s not like, ‘[expletive], Strikeforce beat me out.’ He’s been a free agent for a long time. If I wanted him, I would have signed him by now.”

Henderson hasn’t spoken publicly since this Monday’s announcement, however did give props to UFC brass for the last two years. From his end, it appears the two parted ways amicably.

“I’d also like to thank [Dana White] and the UFC for the opportunities they provided me and I wish them ongoing success,” Henderson said in a statement. “I’ll continue to watch their events and I hope they’ll tune into 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.”

Henderson, the only fighter to simultaneously carry titles in two different weight classes (185 and 205-pound divisions for PrideFC), shunned the planet’s biggest MMA show for a four-fight, 16-month deal with Strikeforce over the weekend.

The wrestler holds a ridiculous 28-7 professional record, and is riding a three-fight winning streak. He was last seen separating Michael Bisping from his senses at UFC 100 in July. Since the devastating knockout win, Henderson has been one of MMA’s most sought-after free agents, however it appears he isn’t the one that got away.

At least according to White.

In response to White’s comments, Aaron Crecy, Henderson’s business partner and manager, made the following statement to Sherdog.com:

“Dan has nothing but fond memories of his time with the UFC and appreciates the opportunities that were provided to him by Lorenzo, Frank and Dana. He enjoyed three of his five fights being headliners and being on the main card for his other two fights. He also appreciates being awarded ‘Knockout of the Night’ at the biggest show in UFC history, being a coach on ‘The Ultimate Fighter 9’ and was grateful that they continued to compete with Strikeforce for his services. Dan is really comfortable with his decision to move forward with Strikeforce and wishes the UFC continued success as well.”

It’s clear that Team Hendo doesn’t want to burn any bridges as they might be in need of employment if this whole Strikeforce thing doesn’t pan-out. However, it is blatantly clear that Strikeforce was more eager to see how much the 39-year-old has left in the tank.*

* – Please see Bisping

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