Former UFC Lightweight Champion Benson Henderson returns to the cage later this month for his second welterweight bout. And the final fight on his current UFC deal.
Henderson fights Thiago Alves in the main event of UFC Fight Night 79 in Seoul, South Korea, and his manager Malki Kawa this week stressed the importance of victory to negotiating his next fight deal, with the UFC or elsewhere.
“For Ben it’s a really big deal because he is on the last fight of his contract,” Kawa said in an interview with FoxSports.com, “and obviously when you’re at the end of a contract, if you plan on negotiating a new deal, whether it’s the UFC or anybody out there you want to do it on a term where you’re the most valuable and you’re obviously the most valuable if you win.
“So it’s a huge fight for Ben, there’s a lot riding on this one for him.”
Penick’s Analysis: The way that’s left open, could Henderson be looking to move on? It’s possible he’s been silently frustrated with things in the UFC, and may want a run elsewhere, though that could simply be a negotiation tactic. Lots of fighters have gambled on themselves into their final fights in order to secure a stronger deal, and Henderson’s doing that here to hopefully maximize his earnings. I don’t expect him to go anywhere, because negotiations with Bellator or anywhere else would likely lead the UFC to match anything offered, and it may not get that far if they come at him with a big initial offer to begin with. Regardless, he’s got to beat Alves to give himself the best chance at a top end deal. If he does that, he’s going to wind up getting paid one way or another.
[Ben Henderson art by Grant Gould (c) MMATorch.com]