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Dana White wants to head butt Dan Henderson

In Dann Stupp’s latest article in the Dayton Daily News, he discusses potential challengers for the UFC middleweight title that’s currently held by Anderson Silva.

Ricardo Almeida, David Terrell, and Thales Leites are all mentioned as possibilities, as is current PRIDE welterweight (183 lbs.) champion Dan Henderson.

However, UFC president Dana White apparently expressed some frustration in his recent attempts to convince Henderson to compete at 185 lbs. as opposed to 205 lbs.

“I want to head butt the guy every time I talk to him,” Stupp quotes White as saying during the post-fight press conference for UFC 77. “He could be a force at (185), and it’d be a great match-up (with Silva). But he’s very hard-headed.”

While I can understand White’s frustration and understand it was probably nothing more than an off the cuff remark, I don’t know if it’s a good idea for him to say those things publicly and take the risk of it being misinterpeted. Henderson is a world class fighter who has just one fight left on his current contract with the UFC. With so many competitors popping up the last thing you want to do is to upset him.

Henderson is a tough guy who I sincerely believe relishes the challenge of competing at light heavyweight. But he could own the UFC’s middleweight division. I don’t think Henderson’s stance about competing at 205 is a ploy for more money, but it couldn’t hurt for the UFC to increase their offer as a way to entice him. Dana can try all the verbal convincing he wants but at the end of the day it will be money that will make the difference whether Henderson’s next fight is a “Super Bowl of MMA” match against Silva or another light heavyweight contest.

I know the UFC wants to keep fighter compensation manageable with the intent of avoiding so many of the problems other sports have encountered with escalating salaries but they’re going to have to go above what they consider to be market value if they want to retain certain guys. Dan Henderson is one of those guys the UFC should pay more than they feel he might be worth. Denis Kang and Randy Couture are two other examples of fighters the UFC should have broken the bank for.

You can click here to read Dann’s entire article, which I highly recommend.

16 COMMENTS
  • Jeremy says:

    I agree on giving the money to Kang but I don’t know if that would have mattered since he expressed that being able to fight in Korea as something that had to be in his contract. The UFC was never going to allow him to fight for another promotion there especially when there was a good chance he could have become their champ at 185lbs.

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  • Sam Caplan says:

    Jeremy:

    Fighting in Korea was definitely something that Kang wanted to do but if the UFC’s offer was a strong as K-1 financially, I have no doubt he would have taken it.

    An athlete might claim “this” is a factor or “that” as a factor, but at the end of the day it comes down to money. Nobody is really comfortable coming out and saying it that way (unless you’re Rampage) because it never comes off well.

    Does Henderson really want to stay at 205 lbs. and does Kang really want to fight in South Korea? I have no reason to doubt it. But money can alleviate a lot of concerns and make an offer more appealing.

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  • Sarah says:

    the ufc has had so much trouble signing (or keeping) so many important fighters lately that i have to start to think that dana white isn’t doing a good job of convincing them that its worth it – i’m sure it’s money at the core of these problems, although with fedor and kang it sounds like being about to fight in their home countries is becoming a bigger and bigger issue. i think white is going to realize pretty soon that the name of his company isn’t going to be good enough any more – there are other places for the fighters to go, and as more people don’t sign, there will be bigger names to fight outside of his organization.

    unrelatedly, shouldn’t dana white have picked an act that is *legal* in the ufc? like maybe a good knee? i’m just saying…

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  • Kang stated for quite some time he wanted to stay in Korea and fight there as well, K-1 had an attractive offer that gave him both money, competition, and a chance to fight in front of Korean fans. To be honest, Kang relies too much on huge bombs.

    Terrell is an interesting prospect, but I think Leites will have a tough time. Almeida will fight Marquardt and fuel it with the Pancrase matchup in which the corners brawled in the ring after the fight due to Almeida holding the choke to win.

    Also, I think Henderson will get paid more for fighting the big names in the LHW division. I’m not sure what he would compensate Henderson at the Middleweight level. I imagine decently if he beats Silva, but fighting Okami or MacDonald?

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  • Jeremy says:

    I hear what you are saying Sam, but I never got that feeling from Kang. He seemed dead serious every time that he wanted to keep his presence in Korea as a fighter.

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  • Sam Caplan says:

    Jeremy:

    Oh, you’re definitely right. Fighting in Korea means a lot of Kang. However, it’s been rumored that K-1 is paying him $100,000 a fight. What if the UFC had offered $125,000 a fight? I think that might have made the decision hard for him.

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  • Jeremy says:

    See if I going off my feelings on how Kang felt about the whole thing I’d want way more then a extra $25,000 to not fight in Korea if it’s indeed that important to him. $100,000 is really good money in the mma market and with it still allowing him to fight in Korea, if I were him, in order to not get my way(if it in fact means that much to him) I want double that.

    That’s the reason I didn’t think he was ever gonna be in the UFC.

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  • dizzle says:

    I think Dana needs to headbutt Henderson. I’m sure that Dana would end up on the ground with a severe cunconsion that would probably keep him out of the media for a good week or 2.

    just my 2 cents.

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  • Sam Caplan says:

    Jeremy:

    But if you think about it, it’s more than an extra $25,000. If he were quoted that number (which he wasn’t) and fought three times for the UFC next year, that would be an extra $75,000 total over what he’s making for K-1. 75K is a comfortable year’s salary for most people.

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  • Jeremy says:

    No I realize that Sam, I was just referring in per fight basis originally. But I still don’t feel that would be enough. I guess I’d have to factor in that he’s also getting paid(at least one would think) to fight in Korea as well. Granted he actually has to fight to get the money there where with the UFC deal he wouldn’t. I just don’t feel in the long run that amount(that you suggested) would be enough.

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  • Brent says:

    Look at some Korean MMA sites (Google Translate!) – Kang is the most popular fighter in Korea because of his record and mixed Korean heritage – he’s making an enormous amount of money on top of the $100k from commercials and product endorsements – I don’t think he could get an offer that could come close to that in another country.

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  • I can see the hardcore fan appeal of having Denis Kang, but I don’t think it makes sense for the UFC to “break the bank” signing fighters who have no name recognition outside of hardcore fans. I think the best growth strategy for them is t continue developing talent and signing free agents who are already well known stateside like Brock Lesnar.

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  • Sam Caplan says:

    Neal, I’m not sure I buy into the argument that guys aren’t worth it because they aren’t name fighters in the U.S. With a guy like Kang, it won’t take long for him to be well-known with hardcores and novices alike. If a guy is good and exciting, their name catches on like wildfire. Look at Anderson Silva. Not many guys knew who he was coming out of Cage Rage.

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  • dizzle says:

    I’m 100% with you on that defense Sam. I’m so tired of hearing about these Top Name Fighters. I’m more interested in the guys who are working towards being a Top Name Fighter. Kang won’t take long to be recognized as long as he does well in the UFC. Nobody remembers that guy who got knocked out or submited within the first round of his premier UFC fight. But they always remember the guy who defeated the nameless.

    for me its about talent and not the name.

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  • Gabber says:

    I don’t know, I’d have to agree with Neal, look at the big money signing of Shogun. They bring him in with alot of hype and try to sell him to the casual fans with his win over Rampage and the way he annhilates competition. Now, he’s 0-1 (no doubt that won’t be for very long) and all the casual fans are like “Why did they sign this SHogun anyway?”

    So, I would agree Kang would be a huge addition and do very well, but with the Cro Cop & Shogun fiasco, is it really worth it to throw huge money at him and have him lose, therefore losing the “unknown” star power and have the middleweight version of the Randy Couture resignation when someone gets pissed at what they pay him to lose? I think they need to work on the names that are well known stateside…

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  • Thorazine says:

    Dana is a former boxer and tough boss, he holds these guys career’s in his hands and doesn’t allow them to disrespect him… but don’t for a moment in your wildest fantasy’s Dana entertain the idea you could head butt Dan Henderson and get away with it! LOL… c’mon Dana you’re a tough talking pencil pusher, but Hendo would twist your head off, stuff it up your ass, prop up your headless body in your chair, pour himself a cup of coffee and say… ok’ lets talk business’…

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