Ben Fowlkes
Saturday May 1st, 2010

No matter what the Tennessee Athletic Commission decides to do about the post-fight melee at Strikeforce's Nashville event, Jason "Mayhem" Miller has already felt the sting. Strikeforce announced Thursday that Miller has been pulled from a June 16 main event bout against Robbie Lawler in Los Angeles and replaced by Renato Sobral.

The official reason? Strikeforce expects Miller to be suspended for his role in the network TV brawl, so it might as well start shifting gears now. No word yet on whether Miller will be given a front row seat in L.A. to watch what should have been his chance to show off for a hometown crowd, but it's probably a good bet that he won't be allowed in the cage after the match.

I can't say I'm surprised Miller is the first one to feel the disciplinary effects from the incident in Nashville, but I am a little disappointed. The more I think about what went down that night, the more he seems like the least culpable party in all this.

What Miller did was enter the cage uninvited to spoil Jake Shields' moment in the sun. It was annoying at best, classless at worst, but not at all unprecedented in fight sports.

Maybe he could have given Shields time to say more than a couple of sentences before he materialized at his elbow, like the killer in a horror movie, and maybe he should have been a little more conscious of other people's personal space. Maybe he should have just stayed out of the cage altogether and considered other ways of pleading for the rematch he won't get anyway.

The point is, Miller's actions alone were not suspension-worthy, nor were they even all that novel. He's not being punished for what he did, but rather for other people's reactions to what he did. If he had entered the cage, said his piece, and been ignored, there'd be no suspension. He'd still have his fight with Robbie Lawler to look forward to, and Strikeforce would only have to answer to CBS for poor ratings and not poor behavior.

But that's not what happened. Instead, Miller got jumped by Gilbert Melendez and the Diaz brothers in front of a national audience. And just like that Miller's amateur theatrics cost him a fight and paycheck. It hardly seems fair.

You could make the argument -- and several people have -- that Miller should have known what would happen when he interrupted Shields' interview that close to such a volatile bunch of men. As if there's some Beware of Crazy sign that hovers over the Cesar Gracie squad wherever they go, and whoever gets within punching distance of them has only himself to blame.

Sorry, but I don't buy it.

Suspensions for Melendez and the Diaz boys may also be forthcoming, but right now it's Miller who's losing money and exposure because of someone else's inability to act like reasonable adults in the face of rudeness.

Should Miller be given a stern talking to for barging in where he wasn't wanted? Absolutely. Does he deserve to lose out on a main event fight for doing something that's been done (albeit, done with a little more savvy) countless times before? No way.

Miller may have been the catalyst for what happened that night, but you can't exactly call him the cause. Slap him on the wrist if you must, give him a permanent Strikeforce escort at all future events to make sure it never happens again, but let him fight. My guess is he already learned his lesson when he was at the bottom of the pile in Nashville.

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