Just moments before the top six fighters on Saturday’s card were set to take the stage at the MGM Grand Garden Arena, UFC president Dana White revealed some “crazy sh*t” happened backstage.
After announcing the three matchups would come out individually, Kevin Holland and Daniel Rodriguez had a brief Q&A with reporters before White was informed of more backstage chaos, and announced the remainder of the press conference was off.
During a scrum with reporters, White said the brawl began with an altercation between Chimaev (11-0 MMA, 5-0 UFC) and Holland (23-7 MMA, 9-4 UFC). Subsequent reports indicated punches and kicks were thrown, then others – including Nate Diaz – got involved as well.
Dana White describes scene of backstage melee at UFC 279 press conference: 'All hell broke loose'
Dana White cancels UFC 279 press conference 'for everybody's safety' after 'big sh*t show' backstage
Video footage confirming reports is still scarce, but Holland chimed in with a message to Chimaev, who offered his own statement to him and Diaz (20-13 MMA, 15-11 UFC) on his Instagram stories.
“I told them: Don’t joke with us,” Chimaev said in Russian (translated by MMA Junkie). “Kevin got what he deserved. Diaz got what he deserved.”
Chimaev is set to meet Diaz in the welterweight main event of UFC 279, which takes place at T-Mobile Arena and airs on pay-per-view following prelims on ESPNNews and ESPN+.
The pair were scheduled to have their first face-to-face interaction and staredown at the press conference, but UFC boss White opted to call things off after things jumped off backstage.
“The Diaz camp showed up with 57 people. Khamzat’s team had 30-something people Then you had multiple guys going on back here. It was crazy,” White said. “It was absolutely nuts back here. … You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to figure out where this whole press conference was headed.”
For more on the card, visit MMA Junkie’s event hub for UFC 279.
Russian reporter Dinislam Mav contributed to this story with translations.