UFC may choose to not re-sign Dan Henderson following Vitor Belfort knockout at Fight Night 32

USA TODAY Sports

I hate to kick a guy while he's down, but...

Longtime mixed martial arts (MMA) veteran Dan Henderson was knocked out for the first time in his professional career in the main event of UFC Fight Night 32, which took place on Saturday night (Nov. 9, 2013) on FOX Sports 1 from the Goiania Arena in Goias, Brazil.

It was Vitor Belfort who did the knocking.

While every loss is devastating to a fighter who makes a living by throwing hands, this one could prove to be catastrophic for Henderson's career. Not only is this his third straight loss in the light heavyweight division, "Hendo" is now 43 years old and nowhere near the division title picture.

And his fight against "The Phenom" was the last on his UFC contract.

"Our roster is too full," according to UFC President Dana White, who turned a few heads this year with a pair of big name releases. "When guys lose and are at a certain point in their careers or whatever the case may be," he continued, " they have to be cut."

In this case, it would be a simple act of not renewing Henderson's contract.

But would the promotion really consider parting ways with the former PRIDE and Strikeforce champion?

Henderson makes a staggering $250,000 per fight, win or lose. He was -- and is -- an exciting fighter, electrifying the fans with his UFC 139 "Fight of the Year" against fellow combat sports veteran Mauricio Rua. But part of his appeal was his iron jaw and the ability to stay conscious during a firefight.

But his chin looks to have caught up to his cardio.

I don't think any fan would be happy to see Henderson go. He's done a lot for this sport and could probably still put on a good show against mid-card opposition. But nostalgia is a poor bargaining chip and from a business perspective, it's difficult to justify a new contract for a declining fighter.

Or at least one that would pay "Hendo" what he wants.

The grass is pretty green over in Bellator, which has no problem signing ex-champions who can't find the win column in UFC. Quinton Jackson and Tito Ortiz were both scooped up by the Viacom-owned promotion earlier this year, and "Hendo" has both the name, as well as the reliability, to accomplish what Ortiz couldn't.

Namely, show up for a fight.

Other promotions exists, like World Series of Fighting (WSOF), but they passed on "Rampage" because they knew he would break the bank, as would Henderson. The assumption is that UFC will still offer the down-on-his-luck legend a new contract, but probably not one that comes close to the previous deal.

"Hendo" may have to decide to make less money in UFC, or see what kind of cash he commands on the open market.

For longtime fans, it's a tough pill to swallow. Even if Henderson returns to the Octagon -- as he fully intends to -- we can't pretend that he's still relevant at 205 pounds. Assuming he hadn't been knocked out, three straight losses is, well, three straight losses.

If this was the last time we see Henderson inside the Octagon, then let me be the first to say, thanks for the memories.

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