UFC Fight Night 79 may look like a smaller MMA card at a glance, but the main event is a blockbuster affair with some high stakes. Former UFC and WEC Lightweight Champion Benson Henderson returns in a violence-assured contest against dangerous fellow-veteran Jorge Masvidal, as both men look to put together the start of a winning streak in the welterweight division.
Things aren’t quite that simple for Henderson, though. Sure, he’s racking up money and climbing that UFC/Reebok tenure ladder. But “Bendo” is also intent on wrapping up his UFC contract for a run at the MMA free agency market. That’s unusual for an elite guy like Henderson, but let’s look deeper into the details as we dive into the previous UFC fighter salaries and last Reebok sponsorship payouts for the main card talent.
Benson Henderson [#16 WW]
$48,000** [UFC Fight Night 59]
Jorge Masvidal [#21 WW]
$102,000 = $51,000/$51,000 + $10,000* [TUF 21 Finale]
Analysis: If the numbers look skewed here, it’s worth noting that Bendo was making $110,000 in “show money” at his peak as UFC Lightweight Champion. Since disclosed pay is all we have to judge by, it seems Henderson’s suffered through a heck of a pay cut, and that’s along with whatever damage the Reebok deal has already done.
If that’s the case, it’s no wonder Henderson is thinking of taking his talents to Bellator, or perhaps ONE Championship. Even past his prime, it’s fair to guess the former UFC/WEC titleholder would be a decent draw and betting favorite against non-UFC 155-ers or 170-pounders.