"Sometimes these things happen in MMA."
Reading reactions on websites like MMAmania following that statement, you would have believed that CBS announcer Gus Johnson might as well have taken the sport of mixed martial arts (MMA) behind the barn and plugged one in the back of its head. The bubblegum-flavored lip balm aficionado, flustered for words, said that infamous statement following an all-out brawl, a fracas that has become synonymous with the Strikeforce: Nashville card from April 2010.
"Mayhem" had fought earlier in the night, earning a relatively easy win over Tim Stout. It put him back in the win column after he suffered a unanimous decision loss to Jake Shields, a bout that decided a new middleweight champion after Cung Le absconded to Hollywood to film Fighting 2: Electric Boogaloo.
Shields beat Miller, surviving a tight third round choke, and became the 185-pound champion. Five months later, he overcame yet another early scare in his bout with Dan Henderson and would go on to defend the title in a fashion similar to how he won it in the first place.
Celebrating his come from behind win over Henderson with his Cesar Gracie teammates in tow, while Johnson asked a litany of standard post-fight questions, Shields was taken by surprise by a familiar face who had unexpectedly dodged, ducked, dipped, dove and dodged his way inside the cage.
"What's up? Where's my rematch, buddy?" Miller said with the Cheshire Cat grin that is perpetually attached to his face.
That's when all hell broke loose.
Strikeforce Lightweight Champion Gilbert Melendez was first to step up to plate. He tried to get an arm in between his training partner and Miller while Shields, nervous smile creeping across his face, gave his former foe a small shove to one shoulder. A stronger, two-handed shove was delivered from the middleweight champ immediately after and "Mayhem" -- still grinning like a madman -- fell back into Shields' sponsor banner.
But, by this point, Miller was no longer focused on the middleweight. Nick Diaz -- and this should come as a surprise to absolutely no one who knows even the slightest bit about the Stockton fighter -- had started throwing punches, apparently home sick the day in kindergarten where everyone is taught that differences are settled with words, not fists.
"Mayhem" was eventually wrestled to the ground where Diaz delivered a flurry of body shots to the kidneys -- even in a brawl, he remembers good technique! -- while younger brother Nate did his best Wanderlei Silva impersonation and tried to stomp away as the former "Bully Beatdown" host.
That was right about when Johnson said that infamous line and followed it with several, "Gentlemen! We are on national television!"s like an old schoolmaster at her wit's end, trying to control a classroom full of petulant children.
When the dust finally settled, there were fines levied against several of those involved, but no dollar amount could ever compare to the drama that followed the incident. Miller and Diaz engaged in an all-out war of words, bantering back and forth about catchweights and which of the two homies was, in fact, scared.
The fight never materialized. Diaz went on to defend his welterweight title three times before making the jump back to the Octagon and maybe/maybe not retiring B.J. Penn. Diaz's unwillingness to sign on the dotted line to face "Mayhem" caused some fans to cry foul.
But like just about anything in the world - and especially the fight game - there was more to the story. Miller was quietly "banned" from Strikeforce because of his involvement in the "Nashville Brawl" and had to sit out the remainder of his contract. He took a fight against Kazushi Sakuraba in DREAM but the decision to keep him outside a Strikeforce cage makes his bout with Michael Bisping his first in over a year.
A year is pretty much an eternity for a fighter. They can train day in and day out the entire time but without stepping inside the cage and putting those skills to test in an actual fight, there's no way to be sure whether any definable progress is being made.
Was the brawl worth sitting a talented, marketable fighter on the sidelines for that long? Absolutely not. Despite Johnson's poorly timed statement, these things DO happen in MMA. It happened in Pride Fighting Championships several times and hell, it even happened in Strikeforce once before when K.J. Noons and his daddy got into it with - you guessed it - Nick Diaz.
Sure, it gives ammunition for those who don't like the sport to load into their buzzword and rhetoric guns but the simple fact is, people love drama. The only thing better than something good is something good turning chaotic. That's the element that Miller brings every time he fights and now brings to the Octagon. He's not nearly clinically insane like "Krazy Horse" Charles Bennett but he's pretty damn close.
And that's the kind of a fighter people will pay money to see.