Bellator president Scott Coker sees flexibility and marketability with Benson Henderson.
The former UFC lightweight champion signed a multi-fight contract with the promotion on Monday, causing a disruption on his own personal website when he posted the news.
Henderson concluded his UFC deal with a pair of wins, and owns victories during his career against the likes of Donald Cerrone, former UFC champion Frankie Edgar and Josh Thomson.
Below is the complete press release from Bellator regarding the signing:
Bellator MMA President Scott Coker continues to make good on his commitment of adding value to the Bellator roster, as he and the promotion are pleased to announce the signing of former UFC Lightweight Champion Benson Henderson (23-5) to an exclusive, multi-fight deal. The signing was scheduled to be announced today on “The MMA Hour,” which is hosted by 6-time MMA Journalist of the Year, Ariel Helwani. When news of the signing broke earlier than anticipated, the flood of traffic to the website may have been responsible for technical difficulties causing some of the interview to not stream live; However, the interview will be available in its entirety this afternoon at www.mmafighting.com.
Henderson has accomplished a great deal over the course of his 10-year professional career as a mixed martial artist. A former WEC and UFC lightweight titlist, “Smooth” holds black belts in both Taekowndo and Brazilian jiu-jitsu, and also earned NAIA All-American honors in both 2005 and 2006. Multiple media outlets named Henderson the fighter of the year in 2012, and has been a part of several epic battles that have received “Fight of the Year” accolades: Donald Cerrone (2009), Anthony Pettis (2010), Frankie Edgar (2012), and Brandon Thatch (2015).
“Benson is a tremendous athlete who puts forth an exciting effort each and every time he steps into the cage,” said Coker. “Whether he chooses to fight at lightweight or welterweight, he’s without question a great addition to this promotion, and brings countless amazing matchups to the table. We’re looking forward to having him put on a show for the great Bellator MMA fans that tune into Spike. We plan on announcing his Bellator debut in the very near future.”
Having competed at both lightweight and welterweight, there are plenty of enticing potential matchups in Henderson’s future. Bellator’s lightweight division is currently championed by Will Brooks, and features many of the world’s best including: Michael Chandler, Josh Thomson, Marcin Held, Brandon Girtz, Brent Primus, Derek Anderson, and Melvin Guillard. Meanwhile, Andrey Koreshkov sits atop the welterweight division with studs the likes of Paul Daley, Brennan Ward, Michael Page, Josh Koscheck, Douglas Lima and Chris Honeycutt vying for his gold.