Following Dan Henderson’s striking coach airing his grievances about Ronda Rousey headlining a UFC card in favor of his fighter, Rousey’s manager, Darin Harvey, said he would feel the same way if he was on the other side.
Harvey told GRACIEMAG.com that the move by the UFC to headline their February Pay-Per-View with his client over Henderson, simply put, is a good business decision. The manager acknowledges, however, that he gets it. Harvey wouldn’t be pleased with the decision if he managed “Hendo.”
“I’m a huge Dan Henderson fan,” he said on Tuesday afternoon. “He can beat anybody in the world on any given day in so many different weight classes. So if I was his management, I guess I would be a little bit upset.”
The February fight card is billed with Rousey as the women’s UFC champion defending her title against Strikeforce and Invicta FC veteran Liz Carmouche in the main event. Henderson will face former light heavyweight champion Lyoto Machida as the co-main event.
Gus Pugliese, the Team Quest coach that posted on Facebook about why he disagrees with Rousey and Carmouche getting top billing, went on to say that there’s a pecking order for earning opportunities like this one. Henderson and Machida, he said, are high on that pecking order. Rousey, he added, is getting a free ride.
“I believe in paying dues,” he told GRACIEMAG.com earlier today. “In this particular case, Hendo and Machida paid their dues a long time ago. For someone new to come in and have a free ride just seems unfair to them and the whole sport they helped build.”
In reaction, Harvey said that MMA is a business as much as it is a sport. From a marketing perspective, the UFC is doing the right thing, he said, by placing Rousey as the headliner because she’s capable of creating a whole new fan base. His fighter has been featured in Esquire Magazine, Sports Illustrated, as well as doing spots on television with Conan O’Brien and Jim Rome. The mainstream attention requires a full-time public relations representative, he added, and the publicist has no other clients beyond Rousey.
“[The UFC] thinks that Ronda’s going to draw more attention to the sport and the event,” Harvey said. “And it’s for a world title, whether they want to acknowledge it or not.
“No other athlete in the history of MMA has ever accomplished what Ronda has by finishing all her opponents, amateur and pro, within the first round, eight of them within the first minute. It’s unprecedented.
“Ronda is a huge draw right now.”
UFC 157 will take place on Feb. 23, 2013, at the Honda Center in Anaheim, Calif.
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**An earlier version of this story was missing the quote from Harvey saying “No other athlete in the history of MMA has ever accomplished what Ronda has by finishing all her opponents, amateur and pro, within the first round, eight of them within the first minute. It’s unprecedented.”