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Scott Coker: 'No. 1 target' Benson Henderson just 'the tip of the iceberg' for Bellator

Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

Benson Henderson sent shockwaves through the MMA-sphere Monday when he announced that he'd be leaving the UFC for Bellator.

Scott Coker, Bellator's president, said he doesn't expect Henderson to be the last free agent to make the jump.

"I think this is just the tip of the iceberg," Coker told Ariel Helwani on Monday's edition of The MMA Hour. "Fighters are fighting out their contacts. They want to negotiate. They really want to see what their value is. We're going to help them to define what their value is. It's always good for the industry to have more than one bidder."

Henderson (23-5) is a huge get. He's a former UFC lightweight champion, still an elite fighter in two divisions and has headlined 10 UFC events in his career. It's possible that he's Bellator's most high-profile signing of a former UFC fighter still in his or her prime. Coker said Henderson, 32, was Bellator's "No. 1 target."

"This guy has done it all," Coker said. "He's fought everybody. ... He's such a class act and such a great guy, too. I thought he'd be a great fit for our company."

Coker said he is not sure when Henderson will debut or against whom, but it could be in the next two months. The Bellator boss said that it is his understanding that Henderson will fight at welterweight. If "Smooth" wants to fight Andrey Koreshkov for the Bellator welterweight title, Coker won't stand in his way.

"If he wants to go for the belt, c'mon," Coker said. "The guy has done it all. How can you say he doesn't deserve a shot? He's been there and done that. For me, we would have no problem doing it."

Since Coker was hired by Viacom to run Bellator in 2014, the promotion has made strides and signed significant fighters, notably UFC veterans Phil Davis and Josh Thomson. Henderson is the biggest name yet to make the move, but Coker said Bellator is not done yet.

"I've always said we're going to build our roster from the ground up and then buy the free agents from the top down that we want," he said. ... "By the end of this year, I think we're gonna have a really good roster on our hands and some really big fights ahead of us."

Intriguing names like Alistair Overeem, Aljamain Sterling and Matt Mitrione are still out there on the market. Coker didn't mention anyone by name and said he wasn't sure if Bellator would bid on every free agent. But he thinks there is certainly more to come.

"All these free agents that are out there aren't just testing free agency just to test it," Coker said. "I think there are other fighters out there that we'll get."

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