I've tried to be sober about criticism of Strikeforce. As an organization with limited financial or logistical capacity, I've found their shortcomings to be as real as they are understandable. However, there's nothing reasonable about the alleged treatment given to Jason Miller during his last year in the Strikeforce. While the controversial fighter and TV host certainly took it upon himself to squander good will from executives, that's a very different concern than being properly informed of his marginalization.
Miller is claiming that he never knew he was banned from Showtime or CBS. He states no one in either organization ever told him and that he wasted a year of his athletic prime being unable to decipher why he couldn't get a fight that made sense (meaning high enough caliber and not on an undercard). If true, this is downright appalling:
"Up until the last minute – up until it was apparent that they had no intention of fulfilling the contract – I was like, hey, I'm ready to fight. Let's fight," Miller said. "At the last moment, it looks as if, okay, they can't fulfill the contract. Now I fight in the UFC. ...I have no ill will towards anyone. If that's how they saw it, then that's how they saw it. If that's the case that I was really banned [from Showtime], then hey, it's not the first place I've been 86'd from."
Just a little over a year from the date of the brawl in Nashville, Miller signed on to return to the Octagon for the first time since his decision loss to Georges St. Pierre at UFC 52 in 2005. The UFC wasted no time in giving him a fight, slotting him against Aaron Simpson at UFC 132 in July.
"Here I've been sitting on the bench. I've been training. I've been working hard and improving, but do you guys think I get some sort of severance package? Do you think I have Bully Beatdown billions? I don't, trust me. I sat around and wasted a good chunk of my career that I could have been making income and capitalizing on the fact that my body is great and I know how to fight."
"Maybe it was because I was the only guy who apologized and accepted the blame," he said. "I was the only guy who really apologized for it, and not this half-hearted thing where my manager's making me say I'm sorry. I was truly apologetic. That whole incident, I never expected anything like that to happen."
I doubt being candid or openly shouldering blame is the reason. It's probably because despite being sincerely apologetic, he helped cause the brawl. Although, I take Miller at his word that he never necessarily intended for the brawl to transpire.
Strikeforce or Showtime, however, very clearly shoulder responsibility in managing the operations of who does or does not enter the cage. To be upset with Miller would be understandable. To ban him from appearing on Showtime or CBS would be placing an unfair share of the blame on his shoulders, a dubious and overly punitive decision at best. To do so without informing him is the absolute height of irresponsibility.
Showtime or Strikeforce is as culpable for the act that damaged their brand as Miller. To leave a fighter in stasis without him being able to make informed decisions about his needs is plainly cruel. Miller spent the last year trying to fight Nick Diaz and not understanding why the fight wasn't made. Now he knows, although he squandered a year of his professional prime as a consequence.
Even if Strikeforce withheld the information as a leveraging tool for future contract negotiations, that absolves them of nothing. In fact, that would be downright duplicitous. It's hard to envision a circumstance where Strikeforce or Showtime would be exonerated for not informing a fighter of his marginalized standing within the company.
It's all for the better now. Mayhem is in the UFC. And now that Strikeforce is under Zuffa ownership, I suspect this practice will diminish or disappear altogether. But if you ever wanted a reason to hammer Strikeforce for malfeseance or ineptitude, this is it.