CHICAGO – Dan Henderson, the power-punching ex-two division PRIDE champion, will be at the Sears Centre on Saturday for the Strikeforce mixed martial arts card that will air on CBS.
Whether he will have a signed Strikeforce contract when he appears to work the corner of Rameau Thierry Sokoudjou is another matter entirely.
A source close to the situation told Yahoo! Sports on Monday that Henderson had signed with Strikeforce, spurning the Ultimate Fighting Championship, for whom he has fought since 2007. Strikeforce CEO Scott Coker on Tuesday admitted to having talks with Henderson, but denied he has been signed.
Enter into the fray UFC president Dana White, who had been personally involved in the negotiations with Henderson.
White said Wednesday, "I guarantee you 1,000 percent that Dan Henderson is signed by Strikeforce."
Appraised of White's stance after Wednesday's news conference to promote Saturday's card featuring a heavyweight bout between Fedor Emelianenko and Brett Rogers, Coker grinned wanly.
"Honestly, I got a call from Dan's management a couple of days ago telling me Dan had turned down the UFC's offer," Coker said. "I guess the UFC made an offer and put a deadline on it. They turned it down and were calling to talk to me, but I told him I have this huge fight and there's a tremendous amount going on and I couldn't really deal with it at this point."
Henderson, 39, remains one of the world's top middleweights, though he also can fight at light heavyweight. He is 25-7 overall and 5-2 in the UFC, and is coming off a one-punch knockout of Michael Bisping at UFC 100 on July 11 in Las Vegas.
White said he wanted to re-sign Henderson, but not at the price Henderson proposed. Henderson had been in the mix to fight UFC middleweight champion Anderson Silva. White said he had no hard feelings toward Henderson.
"Dan and I have been friends and we will continue to be friends, but it just didn't work out and he went to Strikeforce," White said.
Coker conceded he'd love to have Henderson under contract, but said White's information is incorrect.
"Everyone who watches MMA knows the kind of fighter Dan Henderson is," Coker said. "He's a tough, aggressive, fun guy to watch. Who wouldn't want a guy like that? Of course we do, and that's why we've spoken with them.
"Honestly, though, we don't have a deal with him yet. I've been up to my eyeballs working on this fight and I just haven't had time to deal with that yet."