In Dann Stupp’s latest article in the Dayton Daily News, he discusses potential challengers for the UFC middleweight title that’s currently held by Anderson Silva.
Ricardo Almeida, David Terrell, and Thales Leites are all mentioned as possibilities, as is current PRIDE welterweight (183 lbs.) champion Dan Henderson.
However, UFC president Dana White apparently expressed some frustration in his recent attempts to convince Henderson to compete at 185 lbs. as opposed to 205 lbs.
“I want to head butt the guy every time I talk to him,” Stupp quotes White as saying during the post-fight press conference for UFC 77. “He could be a force at (185), and it’d be a great match-up (with Silva). But he’s very hard-headed.”
While I can understand White’s frustration and understand it was probably nothing more than an off the cuff remark, I don’t know if it’s a good idea for him to say those things publicly and take the risk of it being misinterpeted. Henderson is a world class fighter who has just one fight left on his current contract with the UFC. With so many competitors popping up the last thing you want to do is to upset him.
Henderson is a tough guy who I sincerely believe relishes the challenge of competing at light heavyweight. But he could own the UFC’s middleweight division. I don’t think Henderson’s stance about competing at 205 is a ploy for more money, but it couldn’t hurt for the UFC to increase their offer as a way to entice him. Dana can try all the verbal convincing he wants but at the end of the day it will be money that will make the difference whether Henderson’s next fight is a “Super Bowl of MMA” match against Silva or another light heavyweight contest.
I know the UFC wants to keep fighter compensation manageable with the intent of avoiding so many of the problems other sports have encountered with escalating salaries but they’re going to have to go above what they consider to be market value if they want to retain certain guys. Dan Henderson is one of those guys the UFC should pay more than they feel he might be worth. Denis Kang and Randy Couture are two other examples of fighters the UFC should have broken the bank for.
You can click here to read Dann’s entire article, which I highly recommend.