As negotiations between the UFC and veteran fighter Dan Henderson reached an impasse Monday, President Dana White all but waved goodbye to the former PRIDE Champion.
“I guarantee you 1,000 percent that Dan Henderson is signed by Strikeforce,” White told his favorite spokesman, Yahoo’s Kevin Iole.
If that’s the case, this would be a tremendous coup for the growing promotion out of San Jose, California. Dan Henderson has tremendous value to Strikeforce. They need to build their own stable of fighters, and what better way to do so than have them beat a recognizable face? Henderson is not Tim Sylvia or Andrei Arlovski. They both left the UFC after seeing their star diminish in the cage. Henderson is different. He coached The Ultimate Fighter this year. He knocked out Michael Bisping in devastating fashion this year. He’s never been hotter; and may never be again.
This is a perfect chance to have him fight Gegard Mousasi and transfer some hard earned credibility to a fighter people don’t yet know, but will. Moussassi, who will battle PRIDE and UFC veteran Rameau Sokoudjou Saturday on CBS, is one of the world’s best prospects. He could benefit enormously from a fight with Henderson. A win immediately catapults him into the discussion of top light heavyweight fighters.
That’s what Henderson brings with him. Guys like this, even if they are a little more expensive than you’d like, lend your promotion credibility. It saves years you would spend earning it on your own. Import it from UFC whenever and however you can.
World Championship Wrestling applied a similar formula to their battle with the industry leader World Wrestling Entertainment in the 1990’s. WCW had struggled for years with their own cast of characters, generally making ends meet but always stuck in a position as “second best.” Bringing in WWE wrestlers, even those considered washed up like Hulk Hogan and Randy Savage, was a springboard to credibility. The presence of those established names made homegrown talent like Sting and Diamond Dallas Page seem bigger just by being in the ring with the big names. While Henderson is no Hogan, not even close, he is a start. It’s a sign that Strikeforce is willing to play with the big boys.
Many are suggesting that the decision to sign Henderson hinges on how the Strikeforce show this weekend performs on CBS. If they do well, the argument goes, they will be emboldened to sign the UFC star. I would argue that desperate times call for desperate measures. If the show on CBS struggles, they make the call to Henderson to bolster their next card. Either way, Henderson is the perfect fighter at the perfect time. If Mousasi comes out of Satruday’s show looking strong, there’s a fight. If Mayhem Miller wows the crowd, there’s a fight. Henderson’s ability to compete with the best at 185 and 205 pounds makes him enormously valuable, both to the UFC (and Dana shouldn’t forget that) and to Strikeforce.