(The Henderson vs. Belfort fight from PRIDE 32 that the UFC has conveniently forgotten about.)
As strange as it seems now, there was a time when the Dan Henderson vs. Michael Bisping fight at UFC 100 was thought to be a #1 middleweight contender’s match. Then, Nate Marquardt blasted Demian Maia, Vitor Belfort ran over Rich Franklin, and suddenly things began to get complicated, both in terms of the UFC’s middleweight title picture and Hendo’s short-term career plans. It’s obvious now that the UFC wants Vitor to be the next challenger for Anderson Silva‘s belt (despite the fact the Belfort has never competed in the UFC at 185 pounds), with the next title shot going to the winner of Dan vs. Nate. Unfortunately, Henderson isn’t currently signed to the UFC. A new report on Sherdog informs us that Dan has been a free agent since last month, and his latest round of contract negotiations with the UFC last week didn’t produce a signed contract:
Uh-oh. The phrase "lack of respect" wasn’t used, but this could easily turn into another Couture/Ortiz/Rampage situation, where one of the UFC’s big stars storms out due to what he perceives as unfair treatement. For the record, Henderson’s last performance earned him a base salary of $100,000, a win bonus of $150,000, and a Knockout of the Night bonus of $100,000. Not a bad total haul, but you can see why he might want his guaranteed money to be more in line with the promotion’s other stars. (On the same card, Georges St. Pierre made $200,000 to show, and Brock Lesnar made $400,000.) And of course, the Belfort situation is a kick in the nuts:
At this point, Henderson says he hasn’t begun talks with any competing organizations, out of respect for the UFC. However…
Sure, he could go to DREAM or Strikeforce and immediately become their middleweight champion. But there’s only one place that Henderson can have his rematch with Anderson Silva, and that’s within the eight walls of the Octagon. Will personal pride be enough to keep Hendo in the UFC? Or will Strikeforce pull up quick to retrieve it?