A fight among Khamzat Chimaev and Kevin Holland sparked an altercation backstage which ultimately resulted in being the UFC 279 press conference prior to the fight being postponed on Thursday.
This is according that to UFC president Dana White, who confirmed that the first conflict that occurred between Chimaev and Holland caused the issues that escalated when the UFC President appeared to the stage for the press event in the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas.
According to numerous witnesses, Chimaev initiated the melee after he kicked Holland in the backstage area. Chimaev’s attack turned into a bigger issue as security rushed to control the situation. The individuals who spoke with MMA Fighting about the incident requested anonymity as they were not permitted to make their comments public.
“Yeah [it was Khamzat Chimaev and Kevin Holland that started it],” White said to reporters in the backstage area. “There were many different things happening simultaneously. There wasn’t just one event that broke out and occurred. There were many things taking place simultaneously.”
Chimaev and Holland have exchanged insults during interviews and on social media in the days preceding UFC 279, and they appeared to be in a quasi-fight during UFC Vegas 21 in 2021.
“So there was security over there, there was no security over there,” White continued. “There was no security over there cause everybody was dealing with the other thing and once it all started erupting, it was just a s*** show.”
White blamed a lack security, as well as the huge crowd of spectators that caused the situation to getting out of hand. White also said the former UFC fighter and manager Tiki Ghosn helped calm things down by helping to get in between the rival teams.
“If it wasn’t for Tiki, we would have been in trouble,” White stated. “Tiki has taken a few shots to the team, but isn’t even on the team. Tiki was able to take two water bottles and slapped them on the head, some kicks, and slaps. Thanks Tiki.”
Multiple sources confirmed that after Holland was on stage for the press conference, along with his adversary Daniel Rodriguez that an altercation ensued which included Chimaev, Diaz and their respective teams.
It’s unclear whether fights erupted or not, but drinking bottles have been thrown in between Chimaev and Diaz’s camp, according to reports, which was at least the reason White finally decided to call off the press conference prior to when things got out of control.
“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 explained. “You are aware of how Nate and Khamzat are they might have a few words and we’ve got the right personnel here to handle it.
“What we did not have enough people to allow everyone to begin fighting. Once everyone is fighting, there’s more than fighting that security had to deal with. We weren’t prepared.”
White said security would be bolstered for any future press conferences, and he was also planning to discuss the number of individuals who are permitted to accompany fighters to events similar to this.
The end result was that White declared that no one was hurt in the melee and that the fights will continue according to the plan for Saturday evening. White also said he did not plan to impose any penalties to the participants in the numerous fights, but he wanted to stop anything similar to this from occurring again.
“This is what we do,” White declared. “This is the business we’re involved in. This is the business of fighting. These kinds of things occur.”
UFC 279 Press conference
Sources who were aware of the incident backstage confirmed that UFC 279’s main event fighter Khamzat Chimaev (11-0 MMA, 5-0 UFC) along with the main-card fighter Kevin Holland (23-7 MMA, 10-4 UFC) were involved in the initial fight that grew into chaos from there.
Diaz vs khamzat
Chimaev as well as Nate Diaz were contracted for an welterweight fight to headline UFC 279 on Saturday night at T-Mobile Arena. The welterweight limit for non-title fights can be 170 pounds and Chimaev measured 178.5 pounds. Diaz had a weight of 171 pounds.
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