Exclusive: Why Henderson Chose Strikeforce (2023)

Former UFC middleweight DanHenderson spoke with Sherdog.com just minutes after theannouncement that he’d jumped promotions and signed a four-fight,16-month deal with rival organization Strikeforce. Henderson, whohad co-headlined four of his last five appearances in the UFC,negotiated with both promotions until last Friday.

Sherdog.com: Why did you pick Strikeforce overthe UFC?
Henderson: The decision was based on a numberof things. It wasn’t just a financial thing. It was the fact that Ifelt I wasn’t getting the fight that I wanted in the UFC. That wasa big part of that -- that I wasn’t and that it got yanked awayfrom me. I think I stepped up for the UFC a number of times and hadearned that right again for a title fight. And the fact thatpublicity-wise, CBS offers quite a bit more than a pay-per-view andSpike TV.


(Video) How GOOD was Dan Henderson Actually?

Sherdog.com: In September, you sat down withUFC owners Lorenzo Fertitta and Dana White in Las Vegas andconfronted them about being passed over for the next middleweighttitle bout against Silva. How did they respond?
Henderson: The fight got pulled from me and was offered to Vitor(Belfort). I met with them after Vitor fought RichFranklin. I told them that it does irritate me. I said, ‘Whydoes Vitor get to jump the line when there’s me and (Nate)Marquardt here who can both fight for a title shot and Vitor’snever fought for the UFC at 185? He jumps the line, especiallysince I beat him.’ They acted surprised that I’d even fought him.They weren’t up on those details at the time. It jogged theirmemory, but either way, to put someone in there that I dominatednot that long ago…

Sherdog.com: You’re the first top-ranked UFCfighter to leave that promotion and join Strikeforce’s ranks. Whatdo you think this says about the current climate of thesport?
Henderson: Obviously, I was fighting in Pride fora long time and I’ve never been one to really jump ship. Had I felta little bit more, I don’t know… I was planning on finishing mycareer in the UFC. When I signed with the UFC, that’s what I wasplanning on doing. I think that whatever transpired or how theyhandled me just didn’t work out at present. Especially for me atthis point in my career, it was definitely Strikeforce. I don’tknow what that says about the climate of the UFC. I think that theyneed to really respect the fighters a little bit more.

(Video) Strikeforce - Feijao vs Henderson (2011)

Sherdog.com: At one point duringrenegotiations Dana White stated that you were trying to become thehighest paid fighter in the UFC --
Henderson: I don’tknow what anyone else makes, but didn’t he make a comment afterthat a couple of weeks later that I was upset about what Tito(Ortiz) makes? I have no idea what Tito makes. So, if I’m trying tobe the highest paid fighter, why would I be upset about what Titomakes? These are his own comments contradicting themselves. Eitherway, I don’t know what Tito makes and I didn’t really know where Iwas on the totem pole over there, but I felt like I wasn’t gettingfair market value for myself.

Sherdog.com: How did the UFC’s banning of yourclothing brand, Clinch Gear, from their events affectrenegotiations?
Henderson: Well, at least I’ll be ableto have Clinch Gear on in the cage when I fight for Strikeforce.The banning didn’t really affect anything though. When the UFCcalled and said that we could no longer sponsor (other fighters),that we were banned from the UFC, I wasn’t mad at all. It was morefunny to me than anything that they would do that. Dana has statedto me that it was nothing personal and that there were no hardfeelings at all. If there were no hard feelings, why would they bana clothing line? We already had a deal; we were paying for theright to sponsor guys just like every other sponsor was. For themto come back and say just because Dan hasn’t re-signed a deal yet,we’re banned.

Sherdog.com: Does that play into your commentearlier that they need to respect fighters more?
Henderson: Absolutely. Things like that aren’t necessary and forthem to do that in the middle of negotiations doesn’t make me feelrespected. It’s more of a strong-arm tactic and a lot of peopleturn the other way when that happens. To me, it was just funny. Ididn’t take it personally, but it just seemed a littlecontradictory to the ‘no hard feelings’ thing.

(Video) Strikeforce & M-1 Global - Fedor vs Henderson (2011)

Sherdog.com: How did the Strikeforcenegotiations play out in comparison to the UFC renegotiations? Youwere talking to both promotions at the same time.
Henderson: Yeah, I was to a point. I wasn’t going back and forth tothem saying, ‘Hey, so and so is paying me this. Pay me more.’ Ididn’t want to do that at all. I don’t think that’s the right wayto do things, so basically I was just looking at the offers. I haveto be honest, Strikeforce was a little slow in getting back to meon certain things, only because Scott Coker got sick for a coupleof weeks and was a little hard to get a hold of. He didn’t want topass the negotiations over to anyone else. Other than that,everything went great and Scott Coker was very respectful andexcited the whole time. I was sincere with negotiating with themobviously because I signed, but I wasn’t just using them to get theUFC to pay me more. Dana was pretty cool throughout negotiationswith the UFC. He was OK to deal with. We were pretty much just at astandstill. I thought I was worth more and they didn’t. It wasnothing personal really.

Sherdog.com: The critics of this move mightsay you’re leaving the elite of the sport to go fight lessercompetition. How would you respond to that?
Henderson:It’s questionable. Where is (Gegard) Mousasi ranked in there? Hemight be the guy to beat AndersonSilva up. And obviously Fedor (Emelianenko) is unscathed andhas proven that he is probably the top heavyweight in the world.JakeShields has never fought in the UFC. I think that Strikeforcehas a lot of great matchups for me. I’m in this sport not just forthe money, but I love the challenge of it. Those three guys aregreat challenges for me and Strikeforce has quite a few guys thatare really top at 185 and above. Their roster is growing rapidlywith top guys, not just lower-level guys.

Sherdog.com: Why do you think every fighterwants to fight FedorEmelianenko?
Henderson: I don’t know. To me, he’snot the reason I signed with Strikeforce just to fight him --although that is interesting and appealing to me to be able tochallenge myself against him. I don’t know who else wants to fighthim, but I do know the fans like to see him fight. He’s veryeffective and likes to finish guys and does a very good job. Ithink him and I would make an interesting matchup.

(Video) Strikeforce - Henderson vs Babalu II (2010)

Sherdog.com: Do you think you can beatEmelianenko?
Henderson: I think I can beat anyone on anygiven day. It’s just a matter of making sure that everything isright with that day.

Sherdog.com: How do you look back on your UFCcareer?
Henderson: I always enjoyed watching the UFC andhad good experiences fighting there, so I have nothing bad to sayabout them. I just think that for me, at this point in my career,maybe it just wasn’t a good matchup for them and me. We were at asticking point on certain things and maybe they think I don’t havetoo many years left, so why would they put a lot of stock in me.Who knows?

Sherdog.com: What are your goals now, havingsigned on for four fights with Strikeforce?
Henderson:I’m planning on fighting more than four fights. I can tell youthat. I couldn’t tell you what the future holds. It changes prettyquickly. Like I said, I thought I was going to end my career in theUFC and this came up and obviously I went in a different directionthan I thought I was going to. I couldn’t comment on the future andwho knows what’s going to happen with Strikeforce? I think thatthey have great opportunities and have the potential to bring a lotof new fans to the sport and I’m pretty much at the forefront ofthat. That’s appealing to me.

(Video) The 10 Greatest Things About Strikeforce MMA

More » Dana White Responds to Henderson's Departure


1. Strikeforce - Nashville (2010)
(Serbiocroata de Bosnia Galego)
2. UFC Legend Dan Henderson Says Jon Jones Hasn't Been the Same Since Testing Positive for Steroids
3. Strikeforce - Evolution (2009)
(Serbiocroata de Bosnia Galego)
4. Daniel Cormier vs Dan Henderson - FULL FIGHT
(Left - handed world)
5. Gegard Mousasi on Henderson, Sokoudjou, and strategy
(jonathan snowden)
6. UFC 204: Dan Henderson Backstage Interview
(UFC - Ultimate Fighting Championship)
Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Van Hayes

Last Updated: 07/06/2023

Views: 6147

Rating: 4.6 / 5 (46 voted)

Reviews: 85% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Van Hayes

Birthday: 1994-06-07

Address: 2004 Kling Rapid, New Destiny, MT 64658-2367

Phone: +512425013758

Job: National Farming Director

Hobby: Reading, Polo, Genealogy, amateur radio, Scouting, Stand-up comedy, Cryptography

Introduction: My name is Van Hayes, I am a thankful, friendly, smiling, calm, powerful, fine, enthusiastic person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.