UFC waived matching rights for former Champ Benson Henderson after Bellator MMA deal reached

By Jamie Penick, MMATorch Editor-in-Chief

Ben Henderson (artist Grant Gould © MMATorch)

The UFC has indeed waived their matching rights for Benson Henderson, and the former UFC Lightweight Champ is now officially a part of the Bellator MMA roster.

Henderson announced his move to Bellator on Monday, and the UFC confirmed (via ESPN.com reporter Brett Okamoto on Twitter) that they’ve opted not to match the deal. Additionally, UFC VP of Public Relations Dave Sholler Tweeted out some positive vibes for Henderson moving forward.

The 32-year-old Henderson entered the UFC in 2011 as a former WEC Lightweight Champion, and made 14 appearances in the UFC. Over his last 11 fights in the organization, he was in the main event of ten of them, and topped six cards combined on pay-per-view and Fox during his tenure in the organization.

Penick’s Analysis: The disappointing part on this signing is that the UFC wasn’t willing to pay an elite competitor like Henderson what he was worth given all he’s done to date. Outside of that, this is huge for Bellator, bringing in what will be one of the best and most talented fighters on their roster. If it’s the start of something more for them, and more and more fighters start making the move, then it’s even better for the fighters themselves, who should start commanding more and more money. The UFC has to be willing to start upping their pay for elite talent, because the more fighters like this leave, the less claim they have on having the best of the best in the sport.

[Ben Henderson art by Grant Gould (c) MMATorch.com]

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