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Former UFC lightweight champ Ben Henderson signs with Bellator MMA

Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

No more teases, no more over-the-hill legends, this one is big.

Former Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) lightweight champion Ben Henderson, 32, who racked up two wins inside the Octagon after moving to welterweight, recently announced his defection to Bellator MMA, which airs on Spike TV under the Viacom banner.

Straight from "Smooth" by way of his official website:

I'd like to officially announce my move over to Bellator MMA.

I'm beyond excited for this next phase of my career, it's a big move, like any move when switching employers or jobs after having worked somewhere for such a long time.

I have to thank the BigMan upstairs for putting some amazing people in my life, my wife (first and foremost) and a lot of truly smart and insightful people behind the scenes who helped make the connections and negotiated this deal to bring it to fruition.

I'd be remiss to not thank Dana White and Lorenzo Fertita for the opportunities they presented me, you guys have helped me change my life for the better and to be able to provide my family with the things I didn't have while growing up. For that I'll always have the utmost appreciation. Thanks for all the advise you guys gave too, both business wise and personal.

And last but not least, to who it is I think of when I think of the UFC! Everybody behind the scenes who I personally dealt with every time I reported in or had to do something. Mayra, Melissa, Dave, Chris, Nick, Tracy, Joanie, Maura, Tony, Heidi, Ryan, James, Dave, Kaia (sp.???), Burt, Rob, Rudy, Stitch, House, Mike, Susie, Dean, Donna, Feryal, Sean, Joe, Brad, Jazzmine, Candice, Michelle, Reed, sorry I can't name everyone or this list would go on for forever. There's a whole ton of people behind the scenes who make that show what it is. You guys and girls are the ones who make that show great and allow us fighters to do what it is we love!!! Much love to you all and thanks for putting up with me for so long.

To my fans, thanks for all the love and support, I'll keep giving you my all, opening up my heart and soul inside that cage. I'm excited for this next chapter and building new relationships with guys I've heard nothing but great things about like Scott Coker, Rich Chou and Mike Kogan.



A date or possible opponent for his 2016 debut has yet to be revealed.

Former Strikeforce head cheese Scott Coker, who took over for Bjorn Rebney back in 2014, was not shy about his desire to land the mixed martial arts (MMA) free agent, though I would imagine this acquisition won't sit well with the boys back in Korea.

Or the folks trying to prove this point.

"Benson is a tremendous athlete who puts forth an exciting effort each and every time he steps into the cage," Coker in today's release. "Whether he chooses to fight at lightweight or welterweight, he's without question a great addition to this promotion, and brings countless amazing matchups to the table."

UFC had a right to match once "Smooth" hit the open market, but it doesn't sound like anyone in the ZUFFA front office was racing to the bargaining table.

So, now that Henderson (23-5) has kicked down the door, how long before some other big (and unhappy) names follow in his footsteps?

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