December 07, 2009
It took a few months after Yahoo! Sports' Kevin Iole first reported it back in October, but Dan Henderson has officially jumped ship from the UFC to the growing promotion Strikeforce. According to AOL Fanhouse's Ariel Helwani, Henderson (25-7, 5-2 UFC) agreed to the deal this weekend. Blogger Loretta Hunt from Sherdog reports that Henderson was offered a slot on UFC 109 to face Nate Marquardt in February as late as Friday but turned it down. His manager Aaron Crecy confirmed that deal is done and that the former PRIDE 185 and 205 pound champion is ready for some new challenges:
"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."
Fanhouse reports that Henderson may fight as early as Jan. 30 while Sherdog says April, on a rumored CBS card, is the likely timeframe for Henderson's debut.
The network television exposure and the tact exhibited by Strikeforce CEO Scott Coker were listed as reasons for the jump:
"It delivers an incredible opportunity for Dan to perform live before an audience of millions of present and future MMA fans," said Crecy. "Also, 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 was promisted a UFC middleweight title shot against Anderson Silva before his UFC 100 victory over Michael Bisping. Things appeared to go south when the prmotion spoke about making Henderson fight Marquardt before he got his title shot. Henderson showed no lingering bitterness today:
"I'd also like to thank Dana (White) and the UFC for the opportunities they provided me and I wish them ongoing success. 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."
"We are excited to welcome Dan Henderson to Strikeforce," said Coker. "Dan is one of the world's premiere fighters who has lived out an extraordinary career. We are looking forward to having him compete for us."
Henderson, 39, would be a logical matchup for Strikeforce light heavyweight champ Gegard Mousasi and even Fedor Emelianenko was mentioned as a desired matchup for the much smaller former Olympic wrestler.
UFC president Dana White said he'd be shocked if Strikeforce would hand over the kind of money Henderson was asking for. If they did step up, White said there would be no ill will towards Henderson. There may be some heat headed towards Showtime. Just before UFC 102, White said the Showtime/CBS promotion was in over its head calling it "Strikefarce" (3:54 mark).
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