The UFC may be the sport’s biggest stage and it’s ‘ultimate proving ground’, but as you’ll see in this article, over the years some of their biggest stars have made a bold decision to leave the Octagon and sign for another promotion while still in-form and in the prime years of their career.
Dan Henderson holds the unusual distinction of having walked away from the UFC twice while on a winning run.
In only his third ever fight, Henderson entered the UFC 17 four-man middleweight tournament in 1998 and won it by defeating Allan Goes and Carlos Newton.
However, Hendo then left for Japan, where he’d win Rings ‘King Of Kings’ tournament and then headed for PRIDE, claiming both their welterweight and middleweight title’s.
Nine years after his last UFC fight, Henderson finally returned to the Octagon, but his initial attempts to win more silverware at both middleweight and light-heavyweight faltered with losses to Quinton ‘Rampage’ Jackson and Anderson Silva.
Nonetheless, Hendo then defeated Rousimar Palhares and Rich Franklin, before an infamous highlight-reel KO victory against Michael Bisping at UFC 100.
A middleweight title fight now loomed, but with his stock suddenly at an all-time high in the UFC, Henderson made a shock decision to sign for Strikeforce instead after Dana White refused to meet his financial demands.
Hendo would then win Strikeforce’s light-heavyweight title and defeat Fedor Emelianenko at heavyweight, before returning to the UFC for the remainder of his hall-of-fame career.