With Benson Henderson now finished with his latest UFC contract, he’s hoping to test his value in the open market, and one of his former opponents thinks that’s the route fighters should be heading if and when they have the opportunity.
In an interview with MMAFighting.com, former UFC lightweight and Friday’s Bellator 147 headliner Josh Thomson argued that all fighters should be testing their value on the open market and maximizing their earnings.
“I’m not giving him advice,” Thomson said of Henderson. “I’m giving all fighters advice. My advice to them is you have to treat this like you’re playing for the Baltimore Ravens or the San Francisco 49ers or you’re LeBron James going from Miami back to Cleveland. It’s a free market agency and one team wants you and one team wants to keep you. Go to the highest bidder. Whoever that is. Hence the free market.
Thomson, who lost to Henderson in a controversial decision in January of 2014, says he’d like to see Henderson make it to Bellator, and thinks the addition to Bellator’s 155 lb. field would be a significant boost to that organization. Regardless, he thinks Henderson, and all fighters, would benefit greatly by simply testing out the market in general.
“You know what people are afraid of? They’re afraid to see what they’re actually worth,” he said. “I’m telling you right now, you’re worth more than you realize. And that’s what’s going to happen. You’re going to find out. Sometimes it might not be the one you wanted. But guess what? It’s probably going to be a little bit better than had you just stuck it out where you were. If you’re not happy with where you’re at, then potentially go somewhere else.
“Look, would I like to have that fight back? Heck, yeah. I would. I feel like I won the last fight. But he’s gotta do what’s best for his family. Would it be great to have him over at Bellator? Heck yeah, it would. To think about the potential of the fights that could happen between me and Ben, Chandler, Rickels, and Will Brooks. If you think about that group of lightweights, you could build a promotion around that.”
Penick’s Analysis: This is where any top end fighter on the UFC roster really needs to weigh their options moving forward. They can bet on themselves and fight out their deal – they risk slightly lesser negotiating power off a loss, but there’s significant reward if they end a deal off a win – or they can take what the UFC offers to re-up before that deal ends, which could be significantly less than they might get otherwise. Not everyone’s going to be in a position to get attention from Bellator or WSOF, or perhaps even a promotion like ONE Championships, but for those who might, it will benefit their financial status in a major way if they try to get those promotions involved.
[Photo (c) Kyle Terada via USA Today Sports]