Tennessee Athletic Commission Executive Director Jeff Mullen on Monday confirmed that the sanctioning body was actively investigating the post-fight brawl that marred the nationally televised Strikeforce “Nashville” event.
Mullen declined to comment further, saying a decision to do so this early in the process would be “out of line.” However, he did indicate it may take a month or longer to sort out the details. The brawl between Jason “Mayhem” Miller and the camp of Strikeforce middleweight champion Jake Shields tarnished an otherwise smooth show on Saturday at the Bridgestone Arena in Nashville, Tenn.
Miller, unbeknownst to Strikeforce officials, entered the cage while CBS was interviewing Shields following his unanimous decision victory over two-time Olympian and UFC expatriate Dan Henderson in the main event. The former Icon Sport champion interrupted the interview and asked Shields for a rematch, setting off an ugly scene inside the cage and perhaps jeopardizing the promotion’s future on network television.
The brawl involved several members of the Shields camp, including Strikeforce lightweight champion Gilbert Melendez, Strikeforce welterweight titleholder Nick Diaz and “The Ultimate Fighter” Season 5 winner Nate Diaz. Melendez and the Diaz brothers were licensed to corner Shields, according to Mullen.
Cesar Gracie, who trains Shields, Melendez and the Diazes, called the incident isolated and vowed to help prevent similar events from transpiring in the future.
“Unfortunately, the-after fight skirmish shifted the focus away from what was probably Jake and Gil’s biggest wins, and that was very disappointing,” he told GracieFighter.com. “We’re a very tight team, and in all the years we’ve hung out together, there has never been a team street fight or anything like that associated with us.
“After reviewing the tape, I think I saw a lot of blame on all sides,” Gracie added. “I have spoken to my guys and with Strikeforce to make sure this never happens again. There were people in there that had come to support our team that really should never have been in there, as well. Those people that participated have been banned from future events.”
Gracie went on to apologize for the melee.
“That night in Nashville was emotionally charged, and I wish cooler heads had prevailed,” he said. “I think it would be better if we fight in a professional manner and not in free-for-alls. For the disruption it has caused, we are sorry and would like to extend an apology.”
Melendez, who trains with Shields in San Francisco, explained his mindset and actions at a post-fight press conference.
“It was Jake’s moment,” Melendez said. “He’d just fought five rounds. He beat a living legend here, and I just didn’t want anyone to steal his moment right there. What did [Miller] do that for? I just felt like he needed to give him some space.”
Shields was not surprised by Miller’s behavior. He defeated Miller by unanimous decision to win the Strikeforce middleweight championship in November.
“He carries himself in a disrespectful way,” Shields said. “It’s just his personality. We’ve been friends in the past. We’ve been enemies in the past.”
Those involved in the fracas could face disciplinary action, not only from the Tennessee Athletic Commission but also Strikeforce itself. Strikeforce CEO Scott Coker, who was backstage when the brawl occurred, said there was no place for such activity in mixed martial arts.
“Obviously, there’s suspensions and there’s going to be sanctions, things like that that we can do, but I want to take a look at the footage,” he said at a post-fight press conference. “Let’s see who threw the first punch or blow, because I didn’t see it. It has no room in our sport because the sport is young. It has no room in any league. When this happens, it affects the entire sport.”