Strikeforce: Nashville was the worst possible event for MMA. It left every single demographic of viewer disappointed.
The largest demographic of viewers were likely casual fight fans who really just want to see an exciting, wild-punching brawl. They may know what MMA is on a surface level, but they watch fights to see a Scott Smith-like fight. Expecting to see a Griffin-Bonnar fight, they were left with a lay-and-pray fest by King Mo, a sprawl-without-brawl show by Gilbert Melendez, and a ground-and-weak-pound performance by Jake Shields. Potential fans were left bored by the fights they saw, as signified by the 30% drop in ratings during the event itself. People who have seen very few MMA events likely formulated an opinion that MMA is simply boring. They will not watch MMA for a long time.
The second demographic of viewers were hardcore fans, like most of you reading this post. While they might have been intrigued by the stylistic clashes these fighters had to offer, they were probably disappointed by the one-dimensional style of each fighter. Lawal can wrestle, and Mousasi has no takedown defense or submissions from the guard. Aoki has submissions and nothing else, and Melendez has the takedown defense to stop that. Shields can wrestle, and Dan Henderson is worse than a turtle on his back. Strikeforce: Nashville proved to me that each of these top-ranked fighters has a massive hole in their game that can be exploited for a repetitive and unexciting, loss.
The third major demographic of viewers were the critics, who want to convince the world that mixed martial arts is brutal and thuggish. While nothing in the fights themselves served to add to their criticism, the post fight antics of the Cesar Gracie fight team fueled their fire exponentially. If the media needed any indication that mixed martial artists were thuggish and discourteous, this was it. Gus Johnson's quote about “sometimes, these things happen in MMA” only helped prove that such little scuffles are commonplace. The MMA world’s attempts to prove that their community is a refined, polite group of people was shot down by this little circus event that transpired after the main event.
So in conclusion, this event hurt MMA more than anything in the recent past. The fights were boring. Top ranked fighters lost badly due to major holes in their game. Team Cesar Gracie provided evidence that the MMA world is a bunch of thugs. Thank you Strikeforce: Nashville for undoing so much of what MMA has worked so hard to build.