UFC 279 press conference cancelled after backstage incidents involving Khamzat Chimaev

Chimaev reportedly kicked fellow fighter Kevin Holland, before Nate Diaz’s team became involved

Alex Pattle
Combat Sports Correspondent
Friday 09 September 2022 11:21 BST
UFC 279 press conference called off after backstage antics

The UFC 279 pre-fight press conference was abandoned on Thursday following an alleged series of backstage incidents involving Khamzat Chimaev.

UFC president Dana White brought just two fighters onto the stage – Holland and opponent Daniel Rodriguez – with the intention of proceeding in kind with the remaining combatants, but the press conference was instead cancelled as one of numerous altercations took place backstage.

Per MMA Fighting, White told reporters that Chimaev, who faces Nate Diaz in Saturday’s main event in Las Vegas, started the commotion along with Holland. Diaz and his team are said to have later become involved.

“Yeah, [it was Chimaev and Holland that started it],” White said. “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 at the same time.

“So there was security [in one place], there was no security [in another]. There was no security over there because everybody was dealing with the other thing, and once it all started erupting, it was just a s*** show.”

MMA journalist Ariel Helwani reported that the series of incidents began when Chimaev kicked Holland in the chest.

“Khamzat Chimaev push kicked Holland in the chest,” Helwani tweeted. “Chimaev was reacting to things Holland has said recently and it set him off, I’m told.”

Former UFC fighter Tiki Ghosn, who now works as an athlete manager, helped to resolve the situation, according to White.

“If it wasn’t for Tiki, we would have been in trouble,” White said. “Tiki took a couple for the team and he’s not even on the team. Tiki took a couple of water bottles to the head, a couple slaps, kicks. Thanks, Tiki.”

UFC fan favourite Nate Diaz faces Khamzat Chimaev in Saturday’s main event (Getty Images)

Diaz and his team are said to have later become involved in the fracas.

“When you know that you have guys that don’t like each other, you make sure that they’re isolated, you have plenty of security around,” White said. “You know how Nate and Khamzat are; they could have some words and we have enough people here to deal with it.

“What we didn’t have enough people for was everybody to start fighting. When everybody starts fighting and there was more than just fighting going on that security was dealing with, we weren’t prepared.”

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