Since dropping to a unanimous decision defeat against Jake Shields in his Strikeforce debut back in April not much has been seen of former UFC favorite Dan Henderson.
Six months later he has finally resurfaced and insists that the delay in returning to the cage was not his choice.
“It wasn’t [up to] me,” Henderson told Ariel Helwani on Thursday’s edition of the MMA Hour. “I was wanting to get back in there pretty quickly, but I think part of the problem was CBS kind of a little bit faltering on their commitment to mixed martial arts, especially after the little escapade in the cage after my last fight on CBS.”
Henderson blames the now infamous brawl that occurred between Jason ‘Mayhem’ Miller, Jake Shields and others for CBS’s reluctance to commit to airing another event.
“It is disappointing [to not fight on CBS again], and the fact that that could have been easily avoided with the guys not coming into the cage after my last fight. It just gave them an out.”
The riot certainly didn’t help matters, but there was more to it than Hendo is alluding to here.
CBS have indeed appeared to backtrack from the sport since the Nashville event headlined by Henderson, but viewing figures are likely to be the main reason for that. The April show failed to deliver on the ratings front, pulling in an average of 2.63 million viewers – down well over a million from 2009’s Fedor Vs Rogers show.
Significantly the Henderson Vs Shields headline bout peaked at just 2.89 million, which compared to the peak of 5.46 million during Fedor’s main event gave a clear indication that Hendo simply does not have the same level of marketability as the promotion’s biggest draw.
Despite those figures it seems that Strikeforce still believed that Henderson was a viable candidate for main event status on CBS.
“[Strikeforce] wanted me to be on the next CBS card and CBS took a while and finally [Strikeforce] just got tired of waiting. I thought I was going to fight two, three months ago, but that’s the way it goes,” Henderson says.
Shrugging off the disappointments Henderson says there are still upsides to his decision to turn his back on a contract renewal in the UFC and sign with Strikeforce instead.
“It’s a nice outlet for these fighters to come fight; they put on a great show and they’re pretty organized, as far as at the event. I’ve got no regrets, put it that way, about moving there. It’s a lot less of a headache, a lot less red tape to deal with, as far as restrictions on what I can and can’t do, as far as sponsorships go.”
He’s putting a brave face on it, but the truth is that the decision to sign with the UFC’s major rival hasn’t worked out well so far.
After putting pen to paper last December Henderson talked of getting his hands on the middleweight and light-heavyweight belts, and even the possibility of fighting Fedor at heavyweight.
The Shields loss was certainly not on his script though, and now 40, having to wait the past part of eight months to get back in the cage is far from ideal. Henderson has frequently mentioned CBS as a reason for his decision to join the promotion and their apparent snub only rubs more salt into the wounds.
And so for now he has to make do with a headline fight on Showtime, needing to defeat Renato ‘Babalu’ Sobral to earn his shot at the 205lb title.
An impressive win against Sobral would help reverse his fortunes, allowing him to end the year on a high and serving a reminder as to why Strikeforce paid handsomely for his services, but another loss would leave him out of the picture in both the title hunt and on CBS.
Finding out which way the dice roll for Henderson in St.Louis on December 4th is just one of the reasons why Strikeforce’s final event of year is set to be compelling viewing.