Strikeforce: Nashville was going along swimmingly until the broadcast ran all the way through the 11 o’clock news and a post-fight brawl erupted right before CBS returned to their regularly scheduled programming. It was the usual mess of a mixed martial arts event on CBS and yet so much more. After the jump, try and follow along as I attempt to sort out this mess and what it means for the future of MMA on broadcast television.
Let’s start with Jason “Mayhem” Miller who almost certainly will lose the most in the wake of the post-fight-fight. Miller, the host of MTV’s Bully Beatdown, was allowed to enter the cage to confront champion Jake Shields who had just finished his first successful title defense. Miller and Shields had fought a disappointing 5-round fight in November on Strikeforce’s first CBS show.
Who let Miller in the cage? We’ll never know, but this kind of thing isn’t uncommon. The fight breaking out was uncommon, but a potential challenger asking someone who just won for a future fight isn’t. I’d be willing to bet that Strikeforce and CBS were happy to have Miller in there right up until the first shove. In fact, you can clearly hear someone say “This was my only concern” before Gus Johnson went into his immortal “Gentlemen! We’re on national television. Gentlemen!”
(Quick aside – This wasn’t staged. I want to get that out of the way. Did they want Miller to confront Shields? Yes. Did they fake a fight with the Gracie camp and Mayhem Miller? Are you really asking that question?)
As you can see from the picture, Gus Johnson wasn’t the only one who wasn’t impressed. Watch Kalib Run’s Zak Woods was cage side and he got plenty other shots of the Strikeforce broadcasting crew being thoroughly unimpressed.
[allaroundthecage via CP]
This fight was a one-in-a-million occurrence. It was the first time in hundreds of MMA events that I’ve seen so much as a push in a cage when these challenges take place. Last weekend the UFC had Georges St. Pierre sitting cage side during the now infamous Silva-Maia fight. I’m willing to bet that if Anderson Silva hadn’t messed around GSP would have been in the cage post-fight to extend a polite request.
Speaking of the UFC, while Dana White shared this simple tweet after the melee, they don’t get off clean here either. First, this reflects poorly on all of the MMA world. Second, one of the principle people involved was UFC welterweight Nate Diaz who can clearly be seen in the replays throwing punches. MMA Fighting’s Ariel Helwani spoke with Nate’s brother Nick who was also part of the gang to jump Miller.
What is the difference between that fight and a fight in baseball or hockey? I know it was after the event, but we’ve seen it all before. Nobody got hurt and it builds the whole “bad blood” storyline. The UFC or Strikeforce could sell this for a PPV. Why can’t CBS turn that into ratings? Why can’t real life be “ripped from the headlines?”
And let’s not forget Strikeforce lightweight champion Gilbert Melendez who was one of the first people to shove Miller.
The common theme – I don’t know what happened. This is a group of people who fight for a living. They’re somewhat prone to violence. Still, everyone was shocked when this happened because there’s so much on the line here. This is the second time CBS has given MMA a chance and this looks a little bit worse than the time Kimbo Slice got knocked out. Maybe we should stop letting people with red streaks in their hair on our televised cards?
So is this the end of Strikeforce on CBS? Initially, I thought yes, but now that I’ve had some time to think about it, probably. If this was the last Strikeforce on CBS show, will it be because of the fight? When they showed the tape-delay on the West Coast, they left the post-fight-fight in. Anything for ratings right? Wrong. The ratings were bad.
Yesterday was LOADED with sports. The Mets and Cardinals were in the middle of a 20-inning game on national television. There were NBA and NHL playoff games going on. SportsCenter hasn’t mentioned Strikeforce once. This didn’t register. There’s nothing on ESPN’s front page. If this is it for MMA on broadcast television, its about the ratings. If a brawl happens at an MMA event and no one is watching…
Of course, that doesn’t mean we won’t get the usual “MMA is evil” stories, but we were going to get those anyway. People who hate MMA are going to hate MMA. We’ll move on. The over-priced WEC PPV is on Saturday. The same people that were going to buy it are going to buy it. (Is my main thesis that people are how people… is?)
Maybe MMA doesn’t belong on the CBS or the other broadcast networks. It works pretty well on SpikeTV and Versus. It’s violent and its not for everyone. Is it so bad that MMA has a home on cable? After this fight and those ratings, there probably isn’t any other option.