On April 17th, 2010, Strikeforce had a breakthrough event. On standard television via their broadcasting partner on CBS, it was an MMA night full of some great talents and compelling matchups. The product may not have had the sensational finishes that most viewers expected, but there was a lot going on. A tripleheader of title fights including decorated wrestler King Mo facing world-travelled Gegard Mousasi, red-hot Gilbert Melendez facing Japanese submission menace Shinya Aoki, and a freshly-signed Dan Henderson meeting grappling force Jake Shields.
Also, fan-favorite Jason “Mayhem“ Miller attempting to get another title shot. Put a pin in that, because it’s important.
April 17th, 2010: A standard night of MMA at Strikeforce: Nashville goes off without a hitch, until…
Dan Henderson had just jumped ship from the UFC after a legendary run in PRIDE, and his signing by Scott Coker and company was viewed as a major coup. And it was, considering he had such a storied pedigree, a great reputation, some exciting performances and strong name recognition. His performances after this fight showed that he in fact was well worth the investment, and then some.
A lot of people expected him to roll through the much younger Shields, and the marketing for the event leaned very heavily on Henderson, and a lot of eyeballs were expected to land on this foray to basic television and exposure to a wider audience.
While a younger Ovince St. Preux blew past Chris Hawk and Dustin Ortiz submitted Justin Pennington, Jason Miller had defeated Tim Stout via strikes in the first round. The three-fight main card rolled around, and the action slowed down to a crawl. Muhammad Lawal controlled his way to a decision win over Mousasi, Melendez jabbed Aoki relentlessly over the course of five long rounds and Jake Shields dominated Henderson with his wrestling.
The action that the prelims brought didn’t carry over to the main card, and it led to a great amount of disappointment for the audience. Once Shields had his arm raised, fans weren’t exactly thrilled. But nobody expected the rest of the event to play out the way it did. Miller had made his way to the cage and attempted to hijack the post-fight interview, repeatedly asking Shields “Where’s my title shot, bro?“
Shields and his friends/training partners Nick Diaz and Gilbert Melendez showed him where it was.
Matters were not helped by commentator Gus Johnson, who expressed his frustration with the infamous line (at the 0:51 mark) “Gentlemen, we’re on national television!“ Such chiding did absolutely nothing, and the whole incident became a major black eye for Strikeforce and a source of embarrassment for MMA in general for a short while.
Strikeforce head honcho Scott Coker was very clear in the post-fight press conference that these antics had no place in the sport. Miller went on to apologize on line for instigating, but continued to call out the Diaz brothers for a time. While the main card didn’t deliver in the manner that some fans had wanted, the post-fight lives on in infamy, and bolstered the renegade reputation of the Cesar Gracie alumni as a crew that is not to be messed with. Unfortunately, no Strikeforce events were ever aired on CBS after this one, but the promotion continued to stage some truly amazing events even after their sale and acquisition by the UFC.
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