“If your boss tells you that he’ll pay you a bunch more money if you become the champion but your boss is the one who decides whether or not you’ll ever get the chance to fight for the title well that doesn’t look quite as appealing when you break it down that way now does it? I think the die-hard MMA fans could see that right away, but casual fans of the sport probably didn’t pick up the particular wording in that statement. The UFC can sit there and promise you the moon, but it’s ultimately up to them to actually give you the opportunity. What’s the point of having that stipulation if it’s beyond my control to earn it? This is about legacy for me. I’ve always strived to be the type of man who stays true to the things I stand for. If I say something I hold to it because it’s not just what you say it’s what you do and what you stand for that determines the type of man that you are… Having held the belt and being on a winning streak I think is what has signaled the change and reaction from the MMA community and from other fighters as well. I can’t tell you how many phone calls and texts I’ve received from fighters still in the UFC asking about the contract I signed. They’ve all asked about money and my deal with Bellator. I think there is a change happening in MMA culture and I believe I’ve been a big spark to it.”
-Benson Henderson talks to Duane Finley at Fansided.com about his signing with Bellator being a potential shift for fighters, and why the UFC’s offer wasn’t quite what Dana White suggested.
Penick’s Analysis: Henderson’s a smart man, and he was absolutely right not to take the promise of potential big money from the UFC when there was never any guarantee he’d have the chance to earn it. He’d hit a ceiling in the UFC – some of that of his own volition with a couple of untimely losses – and without any guarantees that he’d be able to break through that, the time was right for something else. If other fighters follow suit, and start getting bigger money offers elsewhere, there definitely could be a significant shift in the way the UFC structures deals, simply out of necessity to keep guys around. Henderson actually leaving is a bit of a catalyst, and we’ll see how that gets followed up on by the next round of guys fighting out their contract.
[Photo (c) Ron Chenoy via USA Today Sports]
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