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02nd Feb 2016

Benson Henderson reasons for leaving UFC echo Conor McGregor’s issues

Familiar territory

Ben Kiely

Benson Henderson may be the most high profile fighter to leave the UFC to sign for rival promotion Bellator.

After beating Jorge Masvidal in his last trip to the Octagon, Smooth hinted that he would be entertaining offers from other promotions after running out his UFC contract. Bellator made him an offer he simply couldn’t refuse.

His reasons for signing the deal will sound very familiar to Conor McGregor fans, who have heard speculation about The Notorious leaving UFC at the end of his contract so that he can be in total control of his commercial decisions.

“I won’t lie, it was a very big deal,” Henderson told ESPN. “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.”

UFC 144: Press Conference

Under the terms of the controversial Reebok deal, fighters must wear Reebok apparel at all events during fight week including open workouts, weigh ins and the fights themselves.

While they are allowed to have other sponsors, wearing other brands at UFC events goes against the terms of the contract. This has resulted in some fighters losing out on a lot of sponsorship revenue.

Not only will Henderson earn more money from sponsors at Bellator, but he believes that the stand he made could help improve fighter welfare in general.

“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.”