Ben Askren, Bibiano Fernandes and several others shunned the UFC and Bellator MMA to sign with ONE Championship during their free agency periods.
Former UFC lightweight champion Benson Henderson could have done the same.
According to ONE executive Loren Mack, the Asian-promotion made a push to sign Henderson before he decided to agree to a deal with Bellator last week. Henderson is half-Korean, and talked at length about how happy he was to compete in South Korea last year.
“Obviously Asia is our market and we’re always looking for that type of angle,” Mack said in an interview with MMAjunkie Radio. “Henderson, I think the fact he has some Korean roots was certainly of interest to us. We’re looking for the best fighters around the world.”
Henderson will be competing for the Bellator welterweight title at Bellator 153 against Andrey Koreshkov later this year.
Mack added that he believes there are “other appeals” to fighting in Asia for ONE Championship, mentioning the recent success of Vera, who captured the promotions heavyweight title.
“Fighters like Benson Henderson are looking at that and saying, ‘Hey man, maybe I can go that route as well,'” Mack said. “Ben Askren is another great example. He’s a North American guy but has so much respect in Asia wherever he goes. He’s getting mobbed.”