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Ben Henderson says sponsorships were 'a very big deal' in Bellator signing

The UFC's deal with Reebok was an important issue that eventually led former lightweight champ Ben Henderson to sign with Bellator.

Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Bellator pulled off a major coup today, signing former UFC lightweight champion Ben Henderson to a contract. The fighter announced the move on his website and thanked a lot of people including Dana White and Lorenzo Fertitta. White explained that Bellator's deal offered more up front money, and that was what Henderson ended up choosing.

In an interview with ESPN though, Henderson himself made it clear that the UFC's deal with Reebok, which limits sponsor money that fighters can make, ultimately played a large part in his decision as well:

I won't lie, it was a very big deal," Henderson said. "The ability to get sponsors on your own and not have to rely on the amount that Reebok dictates to you was a huge factor. I'd be straight up lying if I said it wasn't a very big part of my decision to go to Bellator.

"I also want to be a trailblazer for the betterment of fighters. Bellator is open to a fighters union -- fighters binding together to see what's in our best interest. That's something you can't even breathe about elsewhere. I think it's a good thing for myself and other fighters to have that."

After once again thanking White and Fertitta and saying they're on good terms (which Dana stated in that interview and has been telling people on Twitter), Henderson also said that he'll be fighting for a belt, and is happy to have new guys to fight:

"Coming over from the UFC with what I've accomplished, yes, we knew we would have a title shot in whichever weight class we decided," Henderson said. "We'll see [which weight class it is]. That part is still up for discussion, and I think it's being talked about right now between my guys and Bellator's. It's exciting for me. No more rematches, all new opponents to prove myself against."

For his last fight against Jorge Masvidal, Henderson made $15,000 in Reebok money. He was two fights away from a bump to $20,000.