Last week, Benson Henderson has finished the last fight he had to complete on his UFC contract. Being a former WEC and UFC champion himself, Henderson is an impressive MMA fighter indeed. This is why, it is not really that surprising if Bellator would take interest in inviting Benson to join their promotion.
Scott Coker, the president of Bellator, has confirmed he is indeed interested in inviting Benson. But he clarified that there is no contact between the two parties as of the moment. Right now, he is trying to see Benson’s limitations because of his contract in the UFC.
“We’re trying to find out if he’s free yet. They (UFC) may have an exclusive negotiating period. We’re trying to find out what the situation is. Once he’s free, we’ll definitely have a conversation with him. He’s a great talent, he’s an amazing talent. He’ll be highly coveted. We’ll see where his head is at but we’ll definitely have that conversation,” Coker said.
Henderson, who has a current record of 23-5, is currently in a rather interesting position because of what took place recently. With the an impeccable record that he had in his career in the UFC, Henderson is the only MMA fighter in a long time who let his UFC contract expire by choice. Coker further revealed that contracts expiring in the UFC is not actually a simple process; it still has rights of first refusal and exclusive negotiation periods.
As of the moment, Bellator already a good roster of fighters who managed to prove something inside the cage. Unfortunately, they are already veteran fighters. The promotion has a couple of young and very talented fighters, but it is still yet to be seen if they can show enough talent to be put into the top draw. Henderson, on the other hand, looks like he is good mix of both. At the age of 32, he might be the perfect fighter Bellator is searching for right now. That might also be the reason why the UFC would possibly match any offer from other promotions just to get him. The UFC will not be doing this negotiation for the first time though; they had done the same thing with Gilbert Melendez when he agreed to a very tough deal with Bellator. In the end, the UFC was able to retain Melendez and his services.
During Henderson’s career in the UFC, he was able to fight both in the welterweight and lightweight division. Being a welterweight MMA fighter, Henderson can easily come in and get a title fight because he’s at the top of the division. Things are different in the lightweight division though. Bellator’s lightweight division has a very good lineup of fighters like Will Brooks, Marcin Held, Dave Jansen, Derek Anderson and Patricky Freire. Even Josh Thomson is in the said division. Henderson was able to beat Thomson in a very controversial fight in the past though.
Just like any promotion company, or any televised program for that matter, Bellator is aiming for the best TV ratings every time; and with Henderson on board, this goal might actually be within reach. Henderson has proven to bring the numbers up when he’s the one inside the cage. He even managed to brings the ratings up to the third-highest in FOX special ever since the contract with the UFC began.