Ben Henderson signing with Bellator means what?

Ben Henderson, mma rankings, ProMMAnow.comFormer UFC lightweight champion Ben Henderson (23-5) has decided to leave the UFC and sign with Bellator MMA. Bellator officials made the announcement earlier today via press release.

It certainly adds some spice to an otherwise boring process for most fighters. Usually its the UFC has fighters they considered past their prime, or the fighter loses two or three fights in a row before being released to sign with a company.¬†It’s a surprising move because Henderson is the most profile fighter to leave the UFC. In fact, Henderson has won his last two fights which he fought as a welterweight. He arguable defeated Donald Cerrone in their matchup which would have made it three consecutive wins.

Here’s what I think it means:

  1. Ben Henderson could make more money overall(including being able to have additional sponsors inside the cage, etc).
  2. Ben Henderson is a fighter that’s 32 years old and the UFC felt he was expendable.
  3. The UFC allowing Henderson to go to a rival promotion helps their argument in the current lawsuit they are facing with fighters arguing they are a monopoly in the MMA world.

The last reported payday for Henderson that I could find was from UFC Fight Night 59 when he fought Donald Cerrone. It appears that Henderson was on a $48,000 to show $48,000 to win contract for that fight. He lost, so he only made $48,000 for that fight(not including any discretionary bonuses). That’s pretty low for a fighter that’s a former champion. If Bellator (Viacom) opened up the checkbook just a little bit more, and Henderson can get additional sponsors(unlike in the UFC because of Reebok) he could make more money.

Henderson had fought his last two fights at welterweight and won both fights. He’s 32 years old and has never been a huge PPV draw, although he had headlined a few UFC events in the past. This actually supports the argument ¬†Henderson going to Bellator will help their cause regarding the law suit.

Henderson is a former champion that’s headlined a few shows. He’s probably near the end of his prime and doesn’t get paid a ton of money. That’s perfect for the UFC. They have a fighter that’s not a huge PPV draw, but still somewhat known that’s a former champion. Who better than to let him sign with a rival promotion to support the claim that the MMA landscape is a competitive market for fighters?

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