Jake Shields defended his Strikeforce middleweight title belt on Saturday night, beating UFC veteran Dan Henderson in five rounds, but the fighting did not end when the bell rang.
As Shields was being interviewed for the CBS viewing audience, Jason "Mayhem" Miller interrupted him, asking for a rematch. Shields' teammate, Strikeforce lightweight champion Gilbert Melendez, took offense to Miller stealing Shields' big moment, and pushed Miller. Shields and Melendez's teammates got in on the action. Strikeforce champ Nick Diaz and his brother, UFC fighter Nate Diaz, were both seen fighting Miller as CBS announcer Gus Johnson tried to end the fight by yelling, "Gentlemen, we're on national television."
Once the brawl broke up, Shields apologized, saying that this was out of character. Shields is known as a mild-mannered man out of the cage, and as he didn't instigate the melee, he doesn't deserve much of the blame.
But that doesn't mean there isn't plenty of blame to go around. Miller shouldn't have interrupted Shields' as he celebrated defeating one of his heroes in MMA.
Miller, the host of MTV's "Bully Beatdown," looks for the spotlight. He and Shields have a longtime beef with one another, and he shouldn't have been there. But Melendez had no business pushing Miller, and the Diaz brothers definitely had no business punching and kicking Miller while he was on the ground.
MMA is a relatively new and growing sport, and it has had very few chances to be on prime-time, network television. The fighters involved in the melee should be ashamed of themselves, as they have now given every opponent of MMA more reason to hate the sport. Instead of focusing on the gentlemanly way most fighters act after a bout has ended -- shaking hands, congratulating each other and each other's fight teams -- fans new to MMA will remember only that a few fighters couldn't let it drop when the final bell rang.