Strikeforce “Nashville” has come and gone, but the fallout is just beginning.
Here’s a look at whose stock notably went up and whose lost ground Saturday in Tennessee.
Jake Shields: A brilliant title defense that should be remembered. Due to the actions of one Jason “Mayhem” Miller and some overzealous team members in his own corner, it won’t be. However, Shields showed true grit in surviving Dan Henderson’s first-round assault and mopped the floor with a legend for the next 20 straight minutes. Could a showdown with Georges St. Pierre at 170 pounds be in the cards for the product of Cesar Gracie, or will the UFC have to pass on the free agent due to his involvement in the post-fight scuffle? The future of Shields is interesting to say the least.
Muhammed “King Mo” Lawal: In just seven MMA bouts, Lawal is the Strikeforce light heavyweight champion. Even with a closed eye and the onset of major-league fatigue, Lawal made it look easy for four out of five rounds in a near shutout of a highly respected fighter in Gegard Mousasi. Lawal showed flashes of an improved standup game earlier, but reverted to what he does best in the championship rounds. That’s what champions do.
Gilbert Melendez: It was far from pretty -- or even slightly entertaining -- but Melendez executed a flawless game plan in a lopsided drubbing of Shinya Aoki. He outpointed his foil on the feet and beat Aoki at his own game on the floor with suffocating control. His only blemish: He may have been involved in the evening’s extracurricular activities.
Jason “Mayhem” Miller: The man with a cult following served up a “Bully Beatdown” of his own. Miller bounced back from his loss to Shields in style with a quick demolition of the outclassed Tim Stout. The problem? “Mayhem” was at the root of the post-fight brawl that will surely be the talk of the sport for some time to come. It was a classless move to steal Shields’ moment, and with the eyes of the nation watching on national television, it may have hurt the sport dearly.
Dan Henderson: UFC President Dana White has to be smiling right now. Whether Hendo left the Octagon of his own accord or he was pushed out is of no more relevance following that performance. If he was nursing an injured back like Gus Johnson reported on the CBS broadcast, it sure didn’t hinder him in the first round, which he won by a 10-8 score on my card and one of the official judges.
Gegard Mousasi: The European striker is widely regarded as a complete fighter, but with takedown defense such as he displayed Saturday, it is evident that Mousasi still has holes in his game. Although Lawal is an extremely gifted wrestler, there is no excuse for giving up takedown after takedown for 25 straight minutes to a largely one-dimensional grappler.
Shinya Aoki: It was an embarrassing defeat that didn’t do the lagging Japanese scene any favors. Had plenty of opportunities to get his game off, but was stifled by a superior fighter in every facet of the game.