Benson Henderson announced his next career move on his personal website, SmoothBensonHenderson.com:
“I’d like to officially announce my move over to Bellator MMA.
“I’m beyond excited for this next phase of my career, it’s a big move, like any move when switching employers or jobs after having worked somewhere for such a long time.
“I have to thank the BigMan upstairs for putting some amazing people in my life, my wife (first and foremost) and a lot of truly smart and insightful people behind the scenes who helped make the connections and negotiated this deal to bring it to fruition.
“I’d be remiss to not thank Dana White and Lorenzo Fertita for the opportunities they presented me, you guys have helped me change my life for the better and to be able to provide my family with the things I didn’t have while growing up. For that I’ll always have the utmost appreciation. Thanks for all the advise you guys gave too, both business wise and personal.
“And last but not least, to who it is I think of when I think of the UFC! Everybody behind the scenes who I personally dealt with every time I reported in or had to do something. Mayra, Melissa, Dave, Chris, Nick, Tracy, Joanie, Maura, Tony, Heidi, Ryan, James, Dave, Kaia (sp.???), Burt, Rob, Rudy, Stitch, House, Mike, Susie, Dean, Donna, Feryal, Sean, Joe, Brad, Jazzmine, Candice, Michelle, Reed, sorry I can’t name everyone or this list would go on for forever. There’s a whole ton of people behind the scenes who make that show what it is. You guys and girls are the ones who make that show great and allow us fighters to do what it is we love!!! Much love to you all and thanks for putting up with me for so long.
“To my fans, thanks for all the love and support, I’ll keep giving you my all, opening up my heart and soul inside that cage. I’m excited for this next chapter and building new relationships with guys I’ve heard nothing but great things about like Scott Coker, Rich Chou and Mike Kogan.
There is no word as of yet as to the length or monetary value of the contract, however the UFC waived its matching rights on Benson Henderson per ESPN’s Brett Okamoto.
UFC official has confirmed the promotion waived its matching rights on Ben Henderson.
— Brett Okamoto (@bokamotoESPN) February 1, 2016
On the signing, Bellator MMA President Scott Coker had the following to say:
“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.