Note to Dan Henderson: Dana White Is Done Playing With You


Micheal David Smith gets the quote from Henderson's people:

Responding to a Yahoo Sports report that Henderson is "on the verge of signing" with Strikeforce, Henderson's friend and business partner Aaron Crecy said that wasn't the case, and that no signing with anyone is imminent.

"We had a brief get-to-know-you session with (Strikeforce) and met them for coffee, but to say he's close to signing would be a gross misrepresentation," Crecy said.

When reached by FanHouse, Strikeforce CEO Scott Coker said, "We've had dialogue with Dan but that's all I'd like to say."

Here's my take. Negotiations between the UFC and Dan Henderson have been at a standstill for weeks. Ever since Henderson's large dollar demands scotched a rematch with Rich Franklin at UFC 103. If you believe Dana's story about poor fan response being the #1 factor, I envy your innocence:

In late July, Henderson said he was asked to rematch Rich Franklin at UFC 103 on Sept. 19 in Dallas, as the promotion was in need of a last-minute main bout to go head-to-head with a Mayweather-Marquez boxing card on the same night. Henderson agreed and was presented a new multi-fight contract a few days later, which he then passed on.

Fast forward a couple of months later. No one's getting anywhere in the negotiations. So Dana White goes to his personal stenographer favorite reporter Kevin Iole on a Friday afternoon and cries some crocodile tears about Strikeforce stealing Dan Henderson away from the UFC.

The timing of this is important. In PR it's traditional to put out a story you want to bury on a Friday afternoon when fewer people are paying attention. By picking a Friday evening of a one of the deadest MMA weekends of the year, Dana is doing his best to get his message out without making this a major story.

Iole made one telling update after my colleague Michael Fagan posted about the story:

Henderson could not be reached for comment Friday, but White confirmed he was unable to come to terms with Henderson. White indicated the company’s contractual right of first refusal had expired and they would not seek to match contract offers Henderson may receive. Strikeforce CEO Scott Coker did not return phone calls.

Now we're got Henderson's camp hurrying to deny that they are even in serious talks with Strikeforce. As much as I think the UFC should pay Dan Henderson what he's worth and then some out of respect for his contributions to the sport, the reality is that Henderson just got pwned by Dana White.

I'm no fan of the way Dana White negotiates with fighters. I think he personalizes things, plays favorites, talks out of turn, holds vendettas, is manipulative and generally bullies everyone he can. But I also have a great deal of respect for just how well he plays the game. Only Randy Couture, Tito Ortiz, Anderson Silva and Fedor Emelianenko could really be said to get away with jacking with Dana White and not even those super-stars at the top of the game can be said to be getting over on Dana.

The jury is still out on Dana's feud with Rampage Jackson. If Jackson's movie career is a huge success, Quinton just might have had the last laugh.

If Dan Henderson isn't careful he'll end up in the like Tim Sylvia, Andrei Arlovski, Ken Shamrock, and Matt Lindland -- or if he's lucky, like Frank Trigg, begging for one more shot with the UFC and then taking the whipping boy treatment and happy to be getting it.

Hendo's not going to get the kind of guaranteed pay day he wants from the UFC and I doubt Strikeforce will want to pay him half a million dollars guaranteed either. He's got some value to Strikeforce as someone who could headline a Showtime against the winner of Mayhem Miller/Jake Shields or maybe against Gegard Mousasi. Maybe he could even fight Frank Shamrock or Cung Le in a match that would be booked for its promotional rather than competitive value. But I don't see that being worth $500,000 up front guaranteed to Strikeforce.

If Dan Henderson wants to start a bidding war for his services, Dana White has given notice that he won't be one of the competitors.

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