Monday afternoon Bellator MMA announced arguably their biggest signing in promotional history. Former UFC lightweight champion Benson Henderson shocked MMA fans as it was revealed that he will be leaving the UFC and had signed with Bellator MMA.
Henderson was riding a 2-fight win streak in the UFC that saw him submit Brandon Thatch and most recently pick up a split decision win over Jorge Masvidal in South Korea. The 2-fight win streak was in wake of Henderson going on a 2-fight losing streak that saw him get KO’d by Rafael dos Anjos, and lose a controversial decision to Donald Cerrone.
Henderson broke the news on his website, which included a gracious ‘thank you’ to UFC President Dana White and UFC CEO Lorenzo Fertitta. In wake of the news, UFC President Dana White spoke to MMAJunkie to discuss Henderson leaving the UFC:
The truth is we made him an offer that would have paid him substantially more – like not even in the same ballpark – than he’s getting now if he were to become world champion again, but he chose their deal, which offered more up front.”
“He’s a former world champion who’s ranked No. 15 now. We’re looking for top-5 guys, guys that are going from 15 to 1, not the other way around.”
“But I’m honestly happy for Benson. I’m not angry. Who knows? This could be the last contract he ever signs. He got the right deal for him. He’s a great guy, and we wish him all the best.”
So far there’s been no word yet on when Henderson will be making his Bellator MMA debut, or who he will be fighting. With Will Brooks as the lightweight champion, do you think Bellator will give ‘Smooth’ an immediate title shot?