UFC scraps press event after Chechen star involved in backstage fight
The UFC was forced to cancel its UFC 279 press conference at Las Vegas’ MGM Grand Garden Arena on Thursday after President Dana White called it a “shit show” ensued when several brawls broke out backstage between fighters.
Trying to keep the media event going, White planned to address the six main fighters who were scheduled to speak in pairs.
However, when middleweight contenders Kevin Holland and Daniel Rodriguez spoke to reporters about their fight, White was forced to cancel the event entirely.
As White explained, this was due to confrontations between Holland and Khamzat Chimaev, as well as Chimaev’s opponent in the headline fight, Nate Diaz, and former fighter and former agent Tiki Ghosn.
“It was a complete s**t show” White explained.
“This is the right decision for everyone’s safety.” This has never happened in UFC history. Dana cancels UFC 279 press conference midway due to backstage fights with Nate Diaz and Khamzat Chimaev. pic.twitter.com/GXoyRZPP29
— MAIN EVENT (@MainEventTV) September 9, 2022
Dana White describes the “complete s*** show” behind the scenes that led to this #UFC279 Press conference is cancelled. White confirms that an altercation between Khamzat Chimaev and Kevin Holland triggered it. pic.twitter.com/UaG7AcC9k2
– MMAFighting.com (@MMAFighting) September 9, 2022
Despite not fighting each other on Saturday, the fact that Chimaev and Holland clashed comes as no surprise as they have lashed out at each other on social media and in separate interviews in recent history.
This week, Holland questioned Chimaev’s credentials, suggesting the 28-year-old is wrong for acting friendly behind closed doors but acting a tough guy on camera.
“He only does that extra ‘wannabe’ street s**t when the media is around.” Holland said.
According to sources that spoke to ESPN Sweden-based Chechen Chimaev made his way to Holland backstage, resulting in him edging between the men and those nearby trying to separate them.
Chimaev then reportedly hit Holland with a front kick and was reportedly dragged away by a Li Jingliang in suits and boots, who had brushed up his English to speak in front of an audience ahead of his fight with Tony Ferguson, in pursuit of his attacker.
Taking to Twitter, Holland addressed the dispute by saying: “Just so everyone knows. I offered this clown a free beard trim. I don’t know of any place in the US that would offer this service for free!
“I’m precise, I promise I wouldn’t beat him. At your service, as are the hotel staff, brother.” he added, referring to a 2020 dig by Chimaev, when he quipped that Holland was a hotel worker.
Holland shared a tweet from Ariel Helwani and also refuted that Chimaev had thrown him over remark: “It’s weird, I didn’t feel anything. UFC Stats Bot, please update this as a failed attempt via Chimaev.”
Ghosn was also there, and White said it was a job well done that the 45-year-old was there to help.
However, later Diaz saw Ghosn with Chimaev and thought that he was part of Chimaev’s entourage.
This resulted in Diaz’s camp yelling at Ghosn and then throwing water bottles at him and Chimaev’s team, with White confirming how some of the items hit Ghosn in the head and that he also received slaps and kicks.
In addition, footage on social media has shown that clashes continued in the lobby after the canceled press conference.
Tensions between Kevin Holland and Chimaev’s team continued after the press conference in the lobby, followed by a friendly cameo from Holland’s opponent Daniel Rodriguez.📹 via IG/chrisslowens pic.twitter.com/ilyL2DGY4n
— Aaron Bronsteter (@aaronbronsteter) September 9, 2022
“Without Tiki, we would have been in big trouble.” white explained. “Tiki took a few for the team and he wasn’t on the team.”
To avoid a repeat of such incidents, White has promised that going forward UFC press conferences will have more security and Saturday’s weigh-ins and card will also be better prepared.
Troubles aside, no one is being punished for their part in the scuffles and none of the fights at UFC 279 have been compromised.
“That’s what we do,” said White. “That’s the business we’re in.
“That’s the fight business. These things happen. We look at how that happened today – why were we unprepared? Why couldn’t we handle this behind the scenes better than we could?” Asked white.
“And we will be better next time when we do a press conference. That will never happen to us again.” he promised.