UFC 279 Press Conference Cancelled Midway Through After Melee Backstage

Dana White, UFC 279
Dana White, UFC 279 press conference Credit: Gabriel Gonzalez/Cageside Press

Thursday’s UFC 279 press conference did not go off without a hitch. In fact, it barely went off at all.

An abbreviated press conference promoting Saturday’s card was called off midway through, with only Kevin Holland and Daniel Rodriguez addressing the media. The pair were brought out solo, without the other big names from the event on stage. After their turn at answering questions, welterweight Li Jingliang, scheduled to face Tony Ferguson on Saturday, made a brief appearance, but his turn at the podium was eventually scratched.

Instead, UFC President Dana White pulled the plug.

Addressing the fans in attendance, White issued a brief statement.

“This ain’t gonna happen. I apologize everybody. I am in very weird waters here,” White began. “This has never happened in the history of this company. Trust me when I say this is the right decision not to do this press conference right now.”

“For everybody’s safety, this is the right decision. I apologize.”

White added “thanks for coming” before exiting the stage.

A police presence was on hand at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas on Thursday before the affair even got underway. Both Nate Diaz and Khamzat Chimaev, who headline UFC 279 on Saturday, had rolled into media day with considerably large entourages.

Throughout the afternoon, rumors swirled regarding an altercation back stage. White later confirmed the incident to media outlets including Cageside Press, acknowledging that the issue began between Khamzat Chimaev and Kevin Holland. Nate Diaz’s camp then became involved.

A lack of staff given the number of people involved didn’t help matters. While the UFC had enough security for isolated incidents, “What we didn’t have enough people for was when everybody starts fighting,” White admitted. “We weren’t prepared.”

“So press conferences will definitely have more security,” White added at one point.

In future, the UFC President stated that fighter entourages will be limited. He also confirmed between Diaz and Chimaev, the pair had a hundred people present. “This is a first, and I guarantee you, the last.”

White singled out retired mixed martial artist Tiki Ghosen as the hero of the day.

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

UFC 279 takes place this Saturday, September 10 at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, NV. Chimaev vs. Diaz headlines.