In the biggest signing in mixed martial arts since Fedor Emelianenko was secured to a Strikeforce contract upon the demise of Affliction as a fight promotion, UFC and Pride FC veteran Dan Henderson has also recently been secured to Strikeforce upon his recent exit from the UFC, and according to Hendo, the change in scenery is as big a surprise to him as it is to anyone else.
“I was planning on finishing my career in the UFC,” said Henderson in a recent conversation with Sherdog. “When I signed with the UFC, that’s what I was planning on doing. I think that whatever transpired or how they handled me just didn’t work out at present. Especially for me at this point in my career, it was definitely Strikeforce. I don’t know what that says about the climate of the UFC. I think that they need to really respect the fighters a little bit more.”
At the core Henderson’s recent jumping of ships comes down to a perceived lack of respect to the former Pride FC multiple weight class champion from the UFC’s end. The tip of the iceberg apparently came when the Team Quest fighter had a title shot yanked out from under him and handed to a man that had never fought a fight for the organization at the weight class. A man Henderson holds a 2006 unanimous decision victory over.
“It was the fact that I felt I wasn’t getting the fight that I wanted in the UFC,” explained Henderson in regards to the reasoning behind his recent UFC departure. “That was a big part of that — that I wasn’t and that it got yanked away from me. I think I stepped up for the UFC a number of times and had earned that right again for a title fight. And the fact that publicity-wise, CBS offers quite a bit more than a pay-per-view and Spike TV.
“The fight got pulled from me and was offered to Vitor (Belfort). I met with them after Vitor fought Rich Franklin. I told them that it does irritate me. I said, ‘Why does Vitor get to jump the line when there’s me and (Nate) Marquardt here who can both fight for a title shot and Vitor’s never fought for the UFC at 185? He jumps the line, especially since I beat him.’ They acted surprised that I’d even fought him. They weren’t up on those details at the time. It jogged their memory, but either way, to put someone in there that I dominated not that long ago…”
And while it wasn’t exactly the icing on the cake, the fact that Henderson’s clothing brand, Clinch Gear, was banned by the UFC during the negotiation process didn’t help to offset the bad taste left in his mouth from the middleweight title shot snub.
“Well, at least I’ll be able to have Clinch Gear on in the cage when I fight for Strikeforce. The banning didn’t really affect anything though.
“Things like that aren’t necessary and for them to do that in the middle of negotiations doesn’t make me feel respected. It’s more of a strong-arm tactic and a lot of people turn the other way when that happens.”