UFC President Dana White and the UFC ended their UFC 279 Pre-Fight Press conference before both Nate Diaz and Khamzat Chimaev took the stage.
During the portion of the press conference featuring Kevin Holland and Daniel Rodriguez who will fight in a catchweight bout, White told the media and those in attendance that an “absolute s**t show” was happening behind the stage between Chimaev and Diaz’s team.
When asked what was going on, White responded, “S**t show. Absolute s**t show back there.” He then directed the media to ask both Holland and Rodriguez questions.
One person then asked Holland if he knew anything that was happening behind the stage between Diaz and Chimaev’s teams. Holland replied, “S**t show.”
Another person asked, “Did anything get physical back there? Were you able to stop it from getting that far?”
White replied, “Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. There’s lots of crazy s**t going on back there. Yeah.”
He then attempted to again direct the media back to Holland and Rodriguez and their upcoming fight, “Who cares. Talk about the fight. We’ve got it handled. Talk about the fight.”
However, after Holland and Rodriguez left the stage, White returned to the podium and cancelled the portion of the press conference between Diaz and Chimaev.
He stated, “Yeah, this ain’t gonna happen. 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.”
The crowd then roared with boos to which White replied, “I hear ya. I’m with ya. But for everybody’s safety this is the right decision. I apologize. Thanks for coming.”
White would later address the media and further explain what was happening back stage albeit he didn’t go into specifics.
He said, “Let me just start off by saying I’m not going to tell everybody what went on back there, but there was multiple crazy — I don’t even know what to call it. How many years? 22 years. However long I’ve been doing this we’ve never had an incident like today. All hell broke loose out here. We stopped it, but we didn’t do a good job of not letting it happen. I just don’t know. I don’t know what went on here. Just never happened before and we’ll be ready for it the next time.”
White went on to detail, “What I didn’t want to do was have all these guys come out there together. The Diaz camp showed up with 57 people. Khamzat’s team had 30 something people. And then you had multiple guys going on back here. It was crazy. It was absolutely nuts back here.”
White then detailed, “Very physical there was lots of stuff going on back here. I made the right decision, believe me.”
He also explained, “Multiple fighters involved in this thing and the camps hadn’t even got into it yet. But I could see where this was going. You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to figure out where this whole press conference was headed. And there was so many people with all the camps that once this started it would have been a bad…”
“Now I have to start looking at an event going off on Saturday if this continues. So we had to shut it down,” he asserted.
White went on to explain, “There was lots of stuff going on before we went out. Calmed everybody down got it to a good spot. Figured two by two would work and we were wrong.”
He also confirmed that an altercation was happening while he was on stage with Holland and Rodriguez.
When asked what started everything, White answered, “There were multiple things going on at the same time. It wasn’t just one thing that erupted and it happened. There were multiple things going on back here at the time. So there was security over there. There was no security over here. There was no security over there because everybody was dealing with the other thing and then once it all just started erupting. It was a complete s**t show.”
Journalist Ariel Helwani would relay what happened between Diaz and Chimaev’s teams.
He explained, “As you guys know, press conference there is usually a curtain. Behind the curtain is where the octagon is and people are hanging around before going it. Well, before going out behind the curtain there is Khamzat Chimaev and his team, there is Kevin Holland and his team. They’ve been exchanging some words as of late.
“And they started to exchange some words and they got very close to each other and they were kind of pushing each other and what not. No real physical activity so to speak in terms of serious kicks, punches landed. There was definitely some physicality as well,” he elaborated.
Helwani continued, “Now, Tiki Ghosn, who is a long-time MMA fighter now turned MMA manager happened to be back there. And got in between them and broke them up. And was like actually the guy. There was hardly any security, a few police officers, but way too many people, way too many team members, and just fiery fighters. So he was actually the guy, as Dana White said in his press scrum, he was the guy who broke the whole thing up believe it or not.”
“And 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 kind of confused about that, unhappy about that, words exchanged. Things exchanged back and forth and all of a sudden water bottles are being thrown,” he relayed.
He added, “And I guess there were some people who were upset where Tiki was standing and the things that were being said back and forth. So then the whole thing gets out of hand. Water bottles are being thrown. I believe Tiki got hit by a bottle or two, but not seriously hurt.”
“Then once that kind of escalated everyone was finally pulled apart and they decided to cancel the press conference,” he concluded.
Helwani later added on Twitter, “Khamzat Chimaev push kicked Holland in the chest. Chimaev was reacting to things Holland has said recently and it set him off, I’m told. Once that was broken up the Chimaev-Diaz part of the story popped off and then the bottles started flying.”