(This man could well be a millionaire by now. How does that make you feel? Pic: Combat Lifestyle)
For anyone still holding onto lingering questions about why Dan Henderson opted to sign with Strikeforce over the UFC in late 2009 or why the company fast-forwarded him into a second title shot on Saturday with a promotional record of just 1-1, here’s pretty much everything you need to know: According to numbers released on Monday by the Ohio State Athletic Commission, Henderson earned a $250,000 flat fee (read: no win bonus needed) for knocking out Rafael “Feijao” Cavalcante to claim the Strikeforce light heavyweight title.
Those of you scoring at home will note that’s a full $60,500 more than all 19 other fighters on the card COMBINED. It also equals each of the official salaries he earned for knocking out Michael Bisping (minus his “KO of the Night” bonus) at the gala UFC 100 and for a decision over Rousimar Palhares at UFC 88, though both those totals included $150,000 win bonuses. Once you consider that he’s making the same money just for showing up in Strikeforce as he was to show up and win in the UFC, that much publicized contract decision must have been kind of a no-brainer for Henderson.
This news also clearly illustrates the difference between being Hendo – a recognizable MMA “legend” and main event draw – and being, say, Strikeforce women’s welterweight champion. The difference (at least officially) is $240,000. Marloes Coenen’s reported pay was just $10,000 for defeating Liz Carmouche (possibly twice) in the co-main event. You economic sticklers will now commence sputtering that European fighters sometimes insist on getting most of their money “off the books” to avoid any kind of taxation double-dip from various governments – and indeed Melvin Manhoef’s listed salary is a matching $10Gs, which is fishy – but you can still bet Coenen ain’t clearing anywhere near a quarter million dollars American for her work last weekend.
Tim Kennedy was second in overall salary, netting a respectable $50Gs (again, no win bonus) for defeating Manhoef. Jorge Masvidal collected $30,000 after adding a $15,000 win bonus for beating Billy Evangelista ($20,000). Meanwhile, Feijao cleared a mere $28,000 after getting face-planted by one of Henderson’s dubiously nicknamed “H-Bombs” (which is a cool moniker for his cinderblock right hand … until he has to fight someone from, say, the City of Japan, in which case it starts feeling like the “Washington Bullets” of MMA nicknames pretty fast).
Oh and damn, ouch: Jorge Gurgel made 4/4 for a total $8,000 payout for beating Billy Vaughn. It’s cool though, because Gurgel is “an exciting fighter” and “puts on a show for the fans.” Right? Guys?
In the end, what we’re telling you is that nearly 60 percent of the disclosed $439,500 payroll for this event will soon be wadded up and stuffed in a hole in Dan Henderson’s mattress at home in Temecula. Also, none of the above even takes into account that Henderson’s Clinch Gear clothing company reportedly has a “brand partnership” and licensing agreement with Strikeforce (one of the likely reasons you’ve been seeing so much Clinch Gear in the SF cage over the last year or so), which probably sweetens his deal considerably.
For Henderson, it’s no wonder why he doesn’t miss the UFC. Like, at all. For Strikeforce though, could the economics of Dan Henderson possibly be making sense?