3-time defending UFC lightweight champion. 10 time UFC headliner. 3-time WEC headliner. Former WEC lightweight champion. 14-4 record at lightweight under the Zuffa banner at lightweight and a 2-0 record at welterweight. So what’s next for the smoothest fighter to ever step foot inside of the Octagon?
The news broke earlier today that Phoenix native Benson Henderson (23-5) chose to sign with Bellator MMA instead of continuing on with the UFC. Much of this had to do with the new Reebok deal that has left a bad taste in more UFC fighters mouths than not. Henderson will now be able to choose his own sponsors, which means he has the ability to make significantly more than the $15,000 he gets per fight from Reebok.
“Benson is a tremendous athlete who puts forth an exciting effort each and every time he steps into the cage,” said Bellator President Scott Coker via press release. “Whether he chooses to fight at lightweight or welterweight, he’s without question a great addition to this promotion, and brings countless amazing matchups to the table. We’re looking forward to having him put on a show for the great Bellator MMA fans that tune into Spike. We plan on announcing his Bellator debut in the very near future.”
Here’s what Henderson had to say about the signing (via SmoothBensonHenderson.com):
I’d like to officially announce my move over to Bellator MMA.
I’m beyond excited for this next phase of my career, it’s a big move, like any move when switching employers or jobs after having worked somewhere for such a long time.
I have to thank the BigMan upstairs for putting some amazing people in my life, my wife (first and foremost) and a lot of truly smart and insightful people behind the scenes who helped make the connections and negotiated this deal to bring it to fruition.
I’d be remiss to not thank Dana White and Lorenzo Fertita for the opportunities they presented me, you guys have helped me change my life for the better and to be able to provide my family with the things I didn’t have while growing up. For that I’ll always have the utmost appreciation. Thanks for all the advise you guys gave too, both business wise and personal.
And last but not least, to who it is I think of when I think of the UFC! Everybody behind the scenes who I personally dealt with every time I reported in or had to do something. Mayra, Melissa, Dave, Chris, Nick, Tracy, Joanie, Maura, Tony, Heidi, Ryan, James, Dave, Kaia (sp.???), Burt, Rob, Rudy, Stitch, House, Mike, Susie, Dean, Donna, Feryal, Sean, Joe, Brad, Jazzmine, Candice, Michelle, Reed, sorry I can’t name everyone or this list would go on for forever. There’s a whole ton of people behind the scenes who make that show what it is. You guys and girls are the ones who make that show great and allow us fighters to do what it is we love!!! Much love to you all and thanks for putting up with me for so long.
To my fans, thanks for all the love and support, I’ll keep giving you my all, opening up my heart and soul inside that cage. I’m excited for this next chapter and building new relationships with guys I’ve heard nothing but great things about like Scott Coker, Rich Chou and Mike Kogan.
Expect the two division threat to get an immediate title shot against either lightweight champion Will Brooks or welterweight champion Andrey Koreshkov depending on where he decides to debut. Take your pick – both match ups hold major intrigue. If Henderson can claim gold as a Bellator fighter he’d be the first former UFC title holder to do so.
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