UFC president Dana White canceled the UFC 279 press conference on September 8 after an intense scuffle broke out backstage.
Nate Diaz is set to complete the last bout on his contract. He will take on the top-ranked welterweight contender Khamzat Chimaev in the main event this Saturday, September 10, at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada. Tensions were high surrounding the seemingly lopsided matchup as fight week drew near.
In a historic first for the UFC, White announced that he would cancel the pre-fight press conference due to a reported altercation between multiple fighters. After a brief delay, only Kevin Holland and Daniel Rodriguez were able to take to the stage as White refused to conduct the event with every scheduled fighter present.
ESPN’s Brett Okamoto and Marc Raimondi shared that they were informed by their backstage camera crews about a scuffle backstage.
“There was a little scuffle between Khamzat and Kevin Holland,” Okamoto tweeted. “Then as Dana came out there, he was trying to keep the press conference going, but then as they were waiting to bring out Nate and Khamzat, one of the members of Nate’s team, which is very large by the way, tons of guys back here waiting with Nate Diaz, threw something in the direction of Khamzat Chimaev and that was when they wanted to call it.”
Raimondi added, “Sources told me that also apparently Nate Diaz’s camp got involved with Tiki Ghosn, a manager, and former fighter as well.”
Ariel Helwani Reported There Was No Violence Involved
Following the unexpected cancellation, Ariel Helwani of MMA Fighting shared the most recent updates on the situation, reporting that no violence was involved.
“Before going out behind the curtain, there is Khamzat Chimaev and his team, Kevin Holland and his team,” Helwani said in the video on Twitter. “They’ve been exchanging some words as of late and they started to exchange some words. They got very close to each other. They were kinda pushing each other and whatnot, no real physical activity so to speak in terms of physical kicks and punches landed but there was definitely some physicality.”
Helwani added, “Now Tiki Ghosn, who is a longtime MMA fighter now turned MMA manager, happened to be back there and got in between them and broke it up and was actually the guy. There was hardly any security, few police officers but way too many people, way too many team members, and fiery fighters so he was actually the guy who broke the whole thing up. Then, Nate and his team show up and as the whole thing between Holland and Chimaev dies down, they see Tiki standing next to Chimaev.
“Nate and his team go a long way with Tiki and are kinda confused about that, unhappy about that. Words exchanged, things exchanged back and forth and all of a sudden, water bottles are being thrown. Some people were upset about where Tiki was standing and the things that were being said back and forth. The whole thing gets out of hand. I believe Tiki got hit by a bottle or two but not seriously hurt.”
Dana White Called It a ‘S*** Show’
White apologized for scrapping the press conference altogether and gave some explanation behind his decision.
“Yeah, this ain’t gonna happen,” White told the gathered media. “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 was the right decision not to do this press conference right now. I hear ya, I’m with ya but for everybody’s safety this is the right decision, alright, I apologize. Thanks for coming!” The crowd responded with boos.