Ben Henderson’s five round decision win over Jorge Masvidal on Saturday at UFC Fight Night 79 was the final bout on his current UFC deal, and he’s looking to test his worth on the open market.
The former UFC Lightweight Champion made it clear after the win in Seoul that he wants to ultimately finish his career in the Octagon, but he’s also looking to see what he can get before then.
“When I retire, it will be retiring in the UFC – I know that for sure,” Henderson said (via MMAjunkie.com). “But I’m going to test the market, yes.
“I’m not trying to send any message of any type, but if it plays out a certain way, I want to have some pretty good memories to go out on.”
Penick’s Analysis: I think Henderson has some type of number in his head, and certain types of fights that he’d like to get, and he’s going to insist that he gets them. It will come down to how valuable the UFC believes he is. He’s 10-3 through 13 UFC appearances, he held and defended the UFC Lightweight Championship, and his three losses came against elite competition. He’s had some derided performances at times, and hasn’t always been the most thrilling, compelling, or dominant fighter to watch. However, he’s absolutely an elite level fighter, and deserves to be paid as such. He’ll enter into an exclusive negotiating period with the UFC, and it’s entirely possible that the UFC comes to terms with him before he’d hit the open market. If not, I think they’d match if he got a serious and significant offer from Bellator similar to what happened with Gilbert Melendez. Either way, he should be getting a serious pay bump after this latest win, and it’s certainly well-earned.
[Ben Henderson art by Grant Gould (c) MMATorch.com]