Tennessee Commission Cites 6 in Strikeforce Brawl

By Loretta Hunt May 3, 2010
Dave Mandel/Sherdog.com

The Tennessee Athletic Commission has issued six individual complaints in connection with the in-cage, post-fight brawl that occurred following Strikeforce “Nashville” on April 17 at the Bridgestone Arena in Nashville, Tenn.

Christopher Garrett, communications director for the Tennessee Athletic Commission, said the regulatory body mailed out letters to six individuals last week. Garrett said the recipients’ identities will not be made public by the regulatory body at this time.

Strikeforce middleweight champion Jake Shields, lightweight champion Gilbert Melendez and welterweight champion Nick Diaz are all in receipt of the complaint letters, trainer Cesar Gracie confirmed to Sherdog.com on Monday. Nate Diaz, originally reported as a licensed cornerman at the April 17 event, has not received a complaint letter to date, said Gracie. Both Gracie and the Tennessee commission confirmed on Monday that the younger Diaz brother, who fights in the UFC, was not a licensed cornerman that night.

All six individuals will have 14 days from receipt of the letter to submit a written response. Gracie said Shields, who is currently out of the country on vacation, will ask for an extension for his response.

The complaints do not sanction or present any disciplinary action, but only implicate the individuals in the brawl that broke out between Jason “Mayhem” Miller and Cesar Gracie camp members after Miller entered the cage without the commission or promotion’s permissions to campaign for a rematch with Shields directly following his five-round title defense against Dan Henderson. A grounded Miller was shown getting punched and kicked by multiple Cesar Gracie team members during a live CBS broadcast. Garrett said the respondents are asked to “present their side of the story” in the responses.

The TAC could address the brawl during an already-scheduled May 13 meeting, though any discussion of the incident will likely not identify the individuals under investigation, said Garrett. Garrett said the nine-member commission will have the option to set preliminary suspensions and/or fines at the meeting, though that doesn’t seem likely as the written responses might not be collected and reviewed in time.

The TAC can institute license suspensions or revocations and/or institute a fine up to $250,000 per individual, according to Tennessee statutes.

Respondents will also have the option to request a hearing in front of the commission within 30 days of any disciplinary action that is presented to them.

Meanwhile, Strikeforce has already elected to not schedule Jason Miller on its June 16 event in Los Angeles in light of Miller’s participation in the brawl.

“Miller isn’t fighting because we believe, in speaking with the Tennessee Athletic Commission, that he will put under some type of suspension,” Coker told Sherdog.com last Thursday. “After reviewing the tape (of the April 17 incident), we felt that Miller shouldn’t headline our next event. We will honor the Tennessee commission’s decision when it’s announced.”

Coker told Sherdog.com that Nick Diaz’s contract to fight Hayato Sakurai at Dream 14 on May 29 is directly with the Japanese promotion, which doesn’t give the American promoter jurisdiction over the bout. Like Miller, Coker said he would recognize any disciplinary action taken against his welterweight champion once the process is completed.

Gracie told Sherdog.com on Monday that Diaz will not be pulled from the bout against the Japanese legend.

“It’s not going to effect the fight,” said Gracie of the pending disciplinary proceedings.
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