Recently top UFC middleweight contender Dan Henderson quit UFC and signed on with Strikeforce where he is expected to make a debut on CBS in April [according to the stations execs.]
Dana White says he respects Henderson and even encouraged him to join with Strikeforce, but White also said not to expect to see the fighter return to UFC before his career is over.
In July with his win over Michael Bisping, Henderson though he’d get a second chance at earning middleweight champion Anderson Silva’s belt, but instead Vitor Belfort was given the title shot instead. Henderson also had some issues agreeing on a new deal with UFC. Soon enough though, Strikeforce came knocking.
White told MMA Junkie Radio earlier this month that Henderson was making too big of demands for his contract, and it would make him the highest paid fighter in UFC. This is when White “encouraged” Henderson he’d be better off moving somewhere else.
“He’s happy, but the reality is that I pushed him into signing that deal. I told people over the weekend that he’d sign within the next week.” said White to MMA Fanhouse recently.
“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.”
White also said;
“Dan probably won’t be back in the UFC, he’ll retire over there.”
When asked if Henderson was a “valuable commodity” White simply said;
“To them maybe, he’s not to me. It’s over with me and Dan Henderson.”
White claims there is no hard feelings between them though.
“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.”
Henderson says he’s focused on the opportunities that Strikeforce has to offer.
“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.”