Tennessee Commission Recommends Suspensions, Fines for Strikeforce Brawl


The Tennessee Athletic Commission has reviewed and issued five individual suspensions and fine recommendations in connection with the in-cage, post-fight brawl that occurred after the April 17 Strikeforce event at the Bridgestone Arena in Nashville, Tenn.

The commission, per its protocol, will not identify the individuals until its administrative actions are finalized, either through settlement or hearings.

In a meeting held Thursday in Nashville, the nine-member commission voted to propose $20,000 fines and nine-month suspensions for all five individuals at a formal disciplinary hearing. However, these initial figures can all be reduced to fines ranging between $5,000-$7,500 and three-month suspensions if the recipients do not contest the proceedings and agree to “settle this matter with a consent order.”

The proposed disciplinary actions apply to five of six individuals who are in receipt of complaint letters mailed out in late April and early May. The regulatory body is still waiting on one more response request from a sixth individual issued a complaint letter after the initial five were mailed. According to an e-mail from Christopher Garrett, communications director for the Tennessee Athletic Commission, the sixth person was not licensed by the commission on April 17 and “there was some difficulty and delay in identifying this individual and his address.”

In addition, two individuals face $7,500 fines in the settlement phase. One is listed as unlicensed, while both failed to respond to the complaint letters issued by the regulatory body. The respondents also face "associated costs" in addition to the fines. Garrett couldn't initially define what those costs referred to or whether the suspensions would be retroactive from April 17 or would begin upon the settlement dates.

Although the commission has not yet publicly identified the individuals, Sherdog.com has identified four of the six cited as Strikeforce middleweight champion Jake Shields, lightweight champion Gilbert Melendez, welterweight champion Nick Diaz, and middleweight Jason “Mayhem” Miller.

Nate Diaz, Nick’s younger brother and a participant in the April 17 incident, was not licensed as a cornerman that night and didn’t initially receive a complaint, said his trainer Cesar Gracie in April. However, Gracie indicated Thursday that the younger Diaz brother, who fights for the UFC, received a complaint letter at a later date than the rest. Gracie wouldn’t confirm if Diaz is the sixth recipient the commission is awaiting a response from.

On April 17, Miller and Cesar Gracie camp members became engaged in a brawl after Miller entered the cage without the commission’s or Strikeforce’s permission to campaign for a rematch with Shields directly following his five-round title defense against Dan Henderson. A grounded Miller was shown getting punched and kicked by multiple Cesar Gracie team members during a live CBS broadcast.

The six respondents have the option to request a hearing in front of the TAC within 30 days of any disciplinary action that is presented to them. However, they risk receiving the heftier fines and suspensions.

Both Gracie and Ryan Parsons, who represents Miller, told Sherdog.com Thursday that they have not received the commission’s initial findings yet and would need to review them before commenting.

Strikeforce CEO Scott Coker had previously told Sherdog.com that he would abide by any disciplinary action handed down by the regulatory body. Coker already elected to not schedule Miller to fight at Strikeforce’s June 16 event in Los Angeles in light of Miller’s participation in the brawl.

Coker told Sherdog.com that Nick Diaz’s contract to fight Hayato Sakurai at Dream 14 this Saturday is a direct deal with the Japanese promotion, which doesn’t give the American promoter jurisdiction over the bout. Diaz faces Sakurai at the Saitama Super Arena in Saitama, Japan.

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