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UFC President Dana White was forced to cancel Thursday’s press conference minutes after it started due to an “absolute s*** show” backstage involving a physical altercation between several fighters and their respective camps.
“S*** show – absolute s*** show out there,” White told mass media in Las Vegas. ‘Ask them questions. There’s a lot of crazy shit going on over there.’
The media session was scheduled ahead of Saturday’s UFC 279, which will be topped off by a welterweight bout between Khamzat Chimaev and former UFC Lightweight Championship challenger, Nate Diaz.
As White later told off-camera reporters, an altercation took place 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 brawl.
No injuries were reported, but punches, kicks and even objects were thrown, according to longtime MMA reporter Ariel Helwani.
UFC President Dana White was forced to cancel Thursday’s press conference just before it was due to begin due to an “absolute s*** show” backstage involving a physical altercation between several fighters and their respective camps
Rising star Khamzat Chimaev (pictured) will fight Nate Diaz at UFC 279 on Saturday, but was reportedly drawn into a skirmish with Kevin Holland ahead of Thursday’s press conference.
Kevin Holland is seen on stage at the UFC 279 press conference at the MGM Grand Arena
Holland actually appeared on stage alongside another Saturday fighter, Daniel Rodriguez, before White took the stage and canceled the proceedings.
“This isn’t going to happen,” White told the crowd. ‘My apologies to everyone. I’m in very weird water here. This has never happened in the history of this company.
“Believe me when I tell you that this is the right decision not to hold this press conference now. For everyone’s safety, this is the right decision. I apologise. Thanks for coming.’
Helwani posted a video on Twitter afterwards explaining the incident.
“They started exchanging some words,” Helwani said of the respective teams of Holland and Chimaev. “They got really close and pushed each other and everything. No real physical activity in terms of kicks, punches landed. But there was certainly something physical, if you will.’
Helwani said Tiki Ghosn, a former UFC fighter turned manager, broke up the fight, adding that there was not enough security for all the people backstage at the time.
But it didn’t end there.
“Then Nate and his team show up as the whole thing between Holland and Chimaev comes crashing down,” Helwani continued.
Diaz’s team apparently took offense to see Ghosn, an alleged ally, standing next to Chimaev when things seemed to be slowing down, according to Helwani.
“Words exchanged, things exchanged, and then all of a sudden the water bottles are tossed around,” Helwani added. “Then things get completely out of hand.
White also noted that there was a lack of backstage security, something the UFC will have to correct in the future.
Saturday’s event remains scheduled for T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.
Holland (left) actually appeared on stage alongside another Saturday fighter, Daniel Rodriguez (right), before White took the stage and canceled the proceedings
Nate Diaz’ (pictured) and his team apparently took offense to see Ghosn, an alleged ally, standing next to Chimaev when things seemed to be dying, according to Helwani
The welterweight bout features a rising superstar in Chimaev (11-0) against longtime fan favorite in Diaz (21-13).
Chimaev, from Stockholm, Sweden, via Chechnya, has put in an incredible performance in the UFC, winning all five of his fights. The first four were sudden and authoritative finishes, and the fifth, at UFC 273, was a bull’s-eye of a decision win over Gilbert Burns that will be 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 had a title, he’s wildly popular for his willingness to go up against anyone and take on exciting fights, most memorable in a high-profile pair of fights with Conor McGregor, with each fighter winning one.
But Diaz has dropped three of his past four and is entering the last fight of his UFC contract.
After months of negotiating with UFC over a potential foe, Diaz accepted Chimaev’s challenge.
“What they make me do now is pretend I called up to this fight, which I didn’t ask for, and I don’t want, and didn’t want, and still don’t want to, but I don’t give a ( expletive),’ Diaz told ESPN. “I’ll fight everyone.”
In a media day on Wednesday, Chimaev, in a nod to the resentment between his opponent and the promotion, said he hopes Diaz brings the style of fighting he has long been known for, no matter the circumstances.
“I hope he can survive five laps,” said Chimaev. ‘It’s good for him. Show his heart and get away from the UFC like a warrior. If I beat him in the first round, everyone will say the man is too old and that ‘Uncle Diaz needs to go home.’
Thursday’s incident was hardly the UFC’s first press conference.
In 2018, after a press conference at Brooklyn’s Barclays Center before UFC 223, MMA legend Conor McGregor and about 20 comrades attacked rivals Khabib Nurmagomedov, Rose Namajunas, Al Iaquinta, Karolina Kowalkiewicz, Ray Borg and Michael Chiesa, who left the arena. on a bus.
Security footage showed McGregor approaching the bus as it slowly crawled to the truck elevators to exit the building. At one point, he can be seen running towards a dolly before picking it up and throwing it at the moving vehicle, breaking a window through which passengers can be seen.
“About 20 guys were apparently let in through the doors by the Mac Life guys, who were graduates here,” White explained, referring to the brand of McGregor and his employees who allegedly helped the Dublin resident and his crew get Barclays Center to enter.
“They opened the doors for them, through an entrance, they stormed the building, went to the loading docks where the fighters got on the buses and started attacking the buses, with garbage cans and dollies and things like that,” White continued. “Brake one of the windows and cut Michael Chiesa badly. He cut his head and cut his face.
‘[UFC fighter] Rose Namajunas was apparently almost hit. She’s super upset now… Hurt one of our employees, broke one of our employee’s knuckles.’
Footage from the scene shows McGregor trying to swing a guardrail through the window of the van full of fighters before security intervenes.
An arrest warrant was eventually issued for McGregor, who turned himself into the New York Police Department. He later pleaded no objection to a count of disorderly conduct and was sentenced to five days of community service.
An arrest warrant was eventually issued for McGregor, who turned himself into the New York Police Department. He later pleaded not to a count of disorderly conduct and was ordered to perform five days of community service