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Dan Henderson to Strikeforce is anything but a done deal

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Earlier today Kevin Iole of Yahoo Sports reported that the UFC and Dan Henderson had broken off contract negotiations, quoting UFC President Dana White as saying, “He had a figure he believed he was worth, and we had our own figure, and we weren’t able to get together.” Immediately the internet went ablaze with discussion suggesting that Henderson was well on his way to signing with Strikeforce. While this might eventually turn into a reality, suggesting that the 39 year old veteran’s demands will immediately be met elsewhere is completely presumptuous; even if he’s only asking for a raise that would put him on par with what Strikeforce is rumored to have paid Gina Carano in August ($125k for her first round loss in August to the “Cyborg” Cristiane Santos).

This all started with Henderson’s commanding victory over Michael Bisping at UFC 100, where a right hook knocked the Brit out and earned Henderson Knockout of the Night honors and a $150k bonus (in addition to the $100k base pay he earned for the fight). White had previously announced that the winner of the match would go on to challenge Anderson Silva for the Middleweight Championship, but everything changed with Vitor Belfort’s crushing victory over Rich Franklin in the first round of their fight last month. Despite the fight falling under the 195lb. Catchweight class rather than Middleweight, White immediately saw the excitement that fans expressed at the possibility of seeing Belfort challenge Silva for the title and went back on his words, suggesting that Henderson would be better suited to fight Nate Marquardt. With Henderson no longer under contract, and White handing the spotlight over to Belfort (who Henderson defeated at Pride 32 in 2006), to call things rocky would appear to be an understatement. Speaking on the situation during the October 8 edition of ESPN’s MMA Live, Henderson said there were “a number of issues” between the two sides.

“I just feel like I’ve made a big impact on the sport throughout my whole career and I’d like to be paid for it now… I’m not trying to ask for way too much or anything like that… I feel like I’ve been in the sport a long time and helped it grow, and with that last knockout—really catapulted me as far as status in the U.S. market. And I feel like I would like to have that test, to see how good of a pay per view draw I would be.”

Despite Henderson’s streak of three straight victories, his record during his most recent stint in the UFC still remains 3-2 (with his most recent loss coming at the hands of Silva in 2008), and he is still an unproven headlining draw despite his highly respected veteran status in the sport.

It’s undoubted that the addition of Henderson to the Strikeforce roster would be an absolute coup. But at 39 years old, the likelihood of a long-term deal is slim. Since his demands are uncertain, right now it’s equally questionable as to whether Strikeforce can exceed the UFC’s final offer and step in to pay the fighter what he’s looking for. And considering that all of this is based on the belief that Dana White has played all his cards… well, it’s probably best to hold off on rushing into assumptions as to how distant Henderson and the UFC actually are. As Aaron Crecy, Henderson’s friend and business partner, told Michael David Smith of MMA Fanhouse earlier today, “Until something is signed, nothing is ever over.”

[This article was first published by Examiner.com.]