Dana White CANCELS UFC 279 press conference after fighters ‘Khamzat Chimaev and Kevin Holland get into physical altercation and ignite melee backstage’: ‘Absolute s*** show’
- UFC president Dana White was forced to cancel Thursday’s press conference
- He blamed the cancelation on an ‘absolute s*** show’ occurring backstage
- Reportedly, fighters Khamzat Chimaev and Kevin Holland got into an altercation
- That skirmish led to a bigger fight, but ultimately tensions were calmed
UFC president Dana White was forced to cancel Thursday’s press conference minutes after it began due to an ‘absolute s*** show’ backstage involving a physical altercation between several fighters and their respective camps.
‘S*** show – absolute s*** show back there,’ White told assembled media in Las Vegas. ‘Ask them questions. There’s lots of crazy s*** going on back there.’
The media session was scheduled ahead of Saturday’s UFC 279, which is headlined by a welterweight bout between Khamzat Chimaev and former UFC Lightweight Championship challenger, Nate Diaz.
As White later told reporters off camera, an altercation occurred between Kevin Holland, who is fighting on the undercard, and Chimaev. However, the skirmish didn’t stop there. According to multiple reports, other athletes and their respective camps also became entangled in the fracas.
No injuries have been reported, but punches, kicks – and even objects – were thrown, according to Longtime MMA beat reporter Ariel Helwani.
UFC president Dana White was forced to cancel Thursday’s press conference moments before it was set to start due to an ‘absolute s*** show’ backstage involving a physical altercation between several fighters and their respective camps
Rising star Khamzat Chimaev (pictured) is set to fight Nate Diaz at UFC 279 on Saturday, but was reportedly pulled into a skirmish with Kevin Holland before Thursday’s press conference
Kevin Holland is seen on stage during the UFC 279 press conference at MGM Grand Arena
Holland actually appeared on the dais alongside another one of Saturday’s fighters, Daniel Rodriguez, before White appeared on stage and canceled the proceedings.
‘This ain’t going to happen,’ White said to the crowd. ‘I apologize everybody. I am in very weird waters here. This has never happened in the history of this company.
‘Trust me when I tell you this is the right decision not to do this press conference right now. For everybody’s safety, this is the right decision. I apologize. Thanks for coming.’
Helwani posted a video on Twitter afterwards, explaining the incident.
‘They started to exchange some words,’ Helwani said of Holland and Chimaev’s respective teams. ‘They got very close to each and were kind of pushing each other and whatnot. No real physical activity in terms of kicks, punches landed. But there was definitely some physicality, if you will.’
Helwani said former UFC fighter-turned-manager Tiki Ghosn broke up the fight, adding that there wasn’t enough security for all of the people that were backstage at the time.
But things didn’t end there.
‘Then Nate and his team show up as the whole thing between Holland and Chimaev dies down,’ Helwani continued.
Diaz’s team apparently took offense to see Ghosn, a perceived ally, standing alongside Chimaev when things appeared to be dying down, according to Helwani.
‘Words exchanged, things exchanged back and forth, and then all the sudden water bottles are being thrown back and forth,’ Helwani added. ‘Then the whole thing gets out of hand.
White also noted that there was a lack of backstage security, which is something the UFC will need to correct going forward.
Saturday’s event remains scheduled for T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.
Holland (left) actually appeared on the dais alongside another one of Saturday’s fighters, Daniel Rodriguez (right), before White appeared on stage and canceled the proceedings
Nate Diaz’ (pictured) and his team apparently took offense to see Ghosn, a perceived ally, standing alongside Chimaev when things appeared to be dying down, according to Helwani
The welterweight match features a rising superstar in Chimaev (11-0) against longtime fan favorite in Diaz (21-13).
Chimaev, of Stockholm, Sweden, by way of Chechnya, has been on an incredible run in UFC, winning all five of his fights. The first four were sudden and authoritative finishes, and the fifth, at UFC 273, was a barnburner of a decision win over Gilbert Burns that will place high on the list for 2022 Fights of the Year.
Diaz, of Stockton, California, has been with UFC since 2007. And while he’s never held a title, he’s wildly popular for his willingness to take on all comers and engage in exciting fights, most memorably in a high-profile pair of bouts with Conor McGregor, during which each fighter won one apiece.
But Diaz has dropped three of his past four and is entering the final fight of his UFC contract.
After months of haggling with UFC over a potential foe, Diaz accepted Chimaev’s challenge.
‘What they got me doing right now is they’re acting like I called for this fight, which I didn’t call for, and I don’t want, and didn’t want, and still don’t want, but I don’t give a (expletive),’ Diaz told ESPN. ‘I’ll fight anybody.’
At a Wednesday media day, Chimaev, in a nod to the rancor between his opponent and the promotion, said he hopes Diaz brings the style of fight for which he’s been long known, regardless of the circumstances.
‘I hope he can survive five rounds,’ Chimaev said. ‘It’s good for him. Show his heart and go away from the UFC being a warrior. If I beat him first round, everyone is going to say the guy is too old and ‘Uncle Diaz is going to have to go home.’
Thursday’s incident was hardly the UFC’s first press conference confrontation.
In 2018, following a press conference at Brooklyn’s Barclays Center for UFC 223, MMA legend Conor McGregor and roughly 20 comrades attacked rivals Khabib Nurmagomedov, Rose Namajunas, Al Iaquinta, Karolina Kowalkiewicz, Ray Borg, and Michael Chiesa, who were leaving the arena on a bus.
Security footage showed McGregor approaching the bus as it inched towards the truck elevators to exit the building. At one point he can be seen running for a dolly before picking it up and throwing it at the moving vehicle, breaking a window through which passengers can be seen.
‘Approximately 20 guys were apparently let in through the doors by the Mac Life guys, who were credentialed here,’ White explained, referencing McGregor’s brand and its employees who allegedly helped the Dublin native and his crew enter Barclays Center.
‘They opened the doors for them, through an entrance, they stormed the building, got down to the loading docks where the fighters were getting on the buses and started to attack the buses, throwing trash cans and dollies and things like that,’ White continued. ‘Broke one of the windows and cut Michael Chiesa real bad. He cut his head and cut his face.
‘[UFC fighter] Rose Namajunas was apparently almost hit. She’s super upset right now… Hurt one of our employees, broke one of our employee’s knuckles.’
Footage from the scene showed McGregor attempting to hurl a guard rail through the window of the van full of fighters before security intervened.
A warrant was ultimately issued for McGregor, who turned himself into New York police. He later pleaded no contest to a count of disorderly conduct and was ordered to perform five days of community service.
A warrant was ultimately issued for McGregor, who turned himself into New York police. He later pleaded no contest to a count of disorderly conduct and was ordered to perform five days of community service
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