What a difference a week makes. Last Monday, UFC president Dana White was in spin control mode after his prized middleweight, Anderson Silva, made a mockery out of the organization’s most monumental show. Today, White can sit back and watch his bitter rival squirm after the embarrassment that took place at “Strikeforce: Nashville” on Saturday.
“Of course, everyone thinks I’m anti-competition, but I’m not,” White told Kevin Iole of Yahoo! Sports. “But everyone knows that they didn’t belong on CBS. Even if you’re the biggest UFC hater out there, you know that. Shame on CBS for this. They knew they should have been with us, but they went out and let those Showtime idiots talk them into going with Elite XC.
“Now, they’re stuck with a bush league, C-level promotion that will probably be out of business next month. And what you saw on Saturday is the kind of thing that happens when you put a product like that on national television.”
Last week, Silva left a showboating stain on the sport with his antics at UFC 112. Although “The Spider’s” shenanigans were nothing anybody had seen before – or would like to ever witness again – White claims that the riot at “Strikeforce: Nashville” takes the controversy cake.
“When have you seen anything remotely close to that happen at a UFC event?” White asked. “I can’t guarantee that every time you see a UFC pay-per-view it will be the best fight card you’ve ever seen. But what I can say is that for (nearly) 10 years, we’ve consistently delivered great fights and great fight cards. That’s why this sport has grown so much and become as popular as it has.
“On any given night, you may catch a bad fight,” he added. “In Anderson’s case, it wasn’t a bad night. It was the third time he’s done something like that, which is why I was so angry. I take seriously delivering the kind of product my fans want to see. But, what you saw on CBS is an example of what you don’t want to see on national television. No one had control and that’s what happens.”
After Jake Shields successfully defended his middleweight crown against Dan Henderson, Jason “Mayhem” Miller – the man Shields previously defeated to capture the open Strikeforce title back in November – rudely interrupted his celebratory speech to demand a rematch.
Apparently, that was all it took to ignite the biggest brawl in the sport’s history as all hell broke loose inside the cage – leaving Strikeforce brass with the unenviable task of cleaning up their “unnecessary” mess on this Manic Monday.
What really appeared to irritate White and MMA purists across the country was the ridiculous comment made by CBS announcer Gus Johnson, who was caught in the middle of the chaos as he was interviewing Shields when Miller emerged.
“Sometimes these things happen in MMA, a lot of testosterone in the cage. Gentlemen, we’re on national television,” Johnson shouted over the arena’s speaker system as Miller was getting jumped. “Gentlemen, we’re on national television!”
Granted, what took place inside the Bridgestone Arena couldn’t possibly be considered any more “Thuggish,” it is NOT what mixed martial arts is about.
“What kind of ridiculous commentary was that? That was an idiotic thing to say,” White said of Johnson’s remarks. “And then he was yelling at them to stop, telling them they are on national television. That was just another example of how bush league they are.”
White wasn’t a complete Negative Nancy today, as he kindly offered his struggling rivals some much needed promotional advice.
“You never should gamble on fights,” White said of Strikeforce’s M.O. “They bet on (Melvin) Manhoef, (that he would beat Robbie) Lawler. Lawler was very unhappy and they wanted to get rid of him, but it backfired because he knocked Manhoef out. Then they treated Shields like (expletive), let his contract expire and they put all their money on Dan Henderson.
“Now, Shields destroys Henderson and look where they’re at. That’s not how you do business.”
Strikeforce CEO Scott Coker did not see the melee when it happened live and has not commented publicly since viewing it on replay. However, he did briefly address the incident during the post-fight presser.
“There’s no room in Strikeforce for that type of behavior,” Coker said. “I will not condone and reward that type of behavior. If you’re a fighter fighting at the highest level, and you’re fighting on CBS, you’re fighting on Showtime, you’re fighting for Strikeforce – or any other mixed martial arts league – there’s no room for that type of behavior.
This morning, Miller posted the following apology on his website:
“I would like to formally apologize to CBS, Strikeforce and all fans of mixed martial arts for my role in the events following the “Strikeforce: Nashville” event. In retrospect, my timing could not have been worse to ask for my rematch with Jake [Shields], and I take full responsibility for entering the cage and setting off a chain of events that cast a dark shadow on the sport. I’ve been a fighter and a fan of MMA for over 12 years and would never do anything to intentionally tarnish the sport I’ve given my life to. In the excitement of the moment, I let my emotions run high and made a bad choice that resulted in a debacle. For that, I sincerely apologize.”