“I also want to be a trailblazer for the betterment of fighters,” said former UFC lightweight champion Benson Henderson in an ESPN interview. “Smooth,” who announced his decision to sign with the Bellator MMA fight promotion on Monday spoke with ESPN on what prompted him to opt for Bellator.
“Bellator is open to a fighters union — fighters binding together to see what’s in our best interest. That’s something you can’t even breathe about elsewhere. I think it’s a good thing for myself and other fighters to have that.”
Henderson says that sponsorships also played a big part in his decision to sign with Bellator. The recent Reebok deal has had a lot of fighters upset about losing big paydays from sponsors. With Reebok, the corporate sportswear company enforcing an exclusive uniform deal with the UFC, many of the fighter’s independent sponsorship deals have dwindled down. While some fighters have been happy with how their contract worked out with Reebok, many fighters have been vocal about their displeasure.
“I won’t lie, it was a very big deal,” Henderson revealed. “The ability to get sponsors on your own and not have to rely on the amount that Reebok dictates to you was a huge factor.” Henderson made $15,000 from his uniform deal with Reebok for his last fight in the UFC added, “I’d be straight up lying if I said it wasn’t a very big part of my decision to go to Bellator.”
For all that be, Henderson’s arrangement to go with Bellator did not end on a sour note with the UFC heads.
“[UFC CEO] Lorenzo Fertitta called me himself. So did [UFC president] Dana White,” Henderson said. “I was able to speak to them. They were both super understanding. There is no animosity there. I have no ill will towards anyone at the UFC, so I thought everything worked out well.”
Benson Henderson is hitting the ground running in Bellator as recent news broke that he will be facing Andrey Koreshkov for the Bellator MMA welterweight championship on April 22nd at Bellator 153 in Connecticut.
Do you think Henderson made the right decision to sign with Bellator MMA? Share your thoughts with us in the comments!