Dana White “cool” with Dan Henderson, but vet unlikely to return to the UFC
MMAjunkie.com Staff, MMAjunkie.com
Dec 16, 4:45 pm EST
Former top UFC middleweight contender Dan Henderson has moved on, signed with Strikeforce, and is now expected to make promotional debut on a CBS-televised card in April, according to CBS executives.
UFC president Dana White said he respects Henderson and encouraged him to make the move to Strikeforce.
But don't expect the 39-year-old fighter to return to the UFC before his career is over, White said.
Last week during festivities for UFC 107, White spoke to a small group of reporters about Henderson. The early UFC fighter and former PRIDE champion re-entered the octagon in 2007 after Zuffa LLC purchased and folded PRIDE into the UFC.
Henderson eventually fell short in light heavyweight and middleweight title shots, but with a win over Michael Bisping in July, he looked as though he'd get a second shot at middleweight champion Anderson Silva's title. However, Vitor Belfort was promised the title shot instead, and Henderson couldn't agree to a new deal with the UFC. Strikeforce with heavy urging from CBS eventually came calling instead.
White last month told MMAjunkie.com Radio (www.mmajunkie.com/radio
) that Henderson's contract demands were too grand and would have made him the highest paid fighter in the UFC. That's why, he said last week, he felt Henderson would be better off elsewhere.
"There's always this talk about I don't respect guys Dan Henderson," White said. "Believe me, I show a lot of guys a lot of respect. Just because I wouldn't pay Dan more than anybody else doesn't mean I don't respect guys. I'm happy (with his deal). I'm very happy with it. I couldn't be happier. I pushed him to do that. I started taking [expletive] off the table, and that made him make his decision to go with them."
Despite the urging, White doesn't expect Henderson to make a return.
"Dan probably won't be back in the UFC," White said. "He'll retire over there."
But after so many high-profile fights and a coaching gig on "The Ultimate Fighter," isn't Henderson a valuable commodity?
"To them maybe," White said. "He's not to me. It's over with me and Dan Henderson."
White, though, re-iterated that there are no hard feelings.
"Dan and I talked the other day," he said. "We know where we stand. … We were cool. We were.
"He knows where we stand. I'm not sitting in front of the media and talking [expletive] about him. I talked to him on the phone. We talked, and I told him exactly how it is."
Last week Henderson told MMAjunkie.com Radio he's not dwelling on the reasons for the move. Instead, he's focused on the opportunities that await in Strikeforce.
"I was happy with every aspect of [the Strikeforce offer], money included," Henderson said. "Obviously, they were really adamant about wanting to try to sign me, so obviously they were very respectful. Dana has a reputation of not being so respectful. That's just how he is, and I think the fans know that. They also know and respect the fact that Dana's done a lot of great things for MMA. I appreciate that as well.
"I don't have any hard feelings. It is what it is now, and I finally decided where my next fight's going to be. I'm excited to start training and getting in shape and going over there to beat somebody up in Strikeforce."