The pre-fight press conference for UFC 279 was cancelled as soon as it began for safety reasons after an altercation between fighters backstage.
Company boss Dana White pulled the plug on the event, labelling it an “absolute shit show back there,” as soon as he hit the stage. “Ask them questions. There’s lots of crazy shit going on back there,” he added.
The press conference started with only two fighters as Kevin Holland and Daniel Rodriguez answered a few questions from the media rather than the six athletes who were originally scheduled to appear.
LIVE UPDATES: US Open Day 11 – Women’s semi finals
READ MORE: Latrell reality Joey would ‘hate’ to happen
READ MORE: Hamilton pours cold water on Ricciardo plan
After they faced off and left the stage, White was seen speaking to UFC officials along with security before calling it in.
“This ain’t going to happen,” White said as the crowd booed. “I apologise 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. For everybody’s safety, this is the right decision. I apologise. Thanks for coming.”
White later told reporters backstage that the “chaos” was sparked by a dust up between Holland and UFC 279 main event star Khamzat Chimaev, which then erupted into a much larger incident between athletes and their camps backstage.
“There were multiple things going on at the same time. It wasn’t just one thing that erupted,” he said. “Once it all started erupting, it was a complete shit show.”
The UFC boss later confirmed four of the six fighters Holland, Daniel Rodriguez, Nate Diaz, Chimaev, Tony Ferguson, and Li Jingliang were involved in the brawl.
MMA reporter Ariel Helwani reported Chimaev push-kicked Holland in the chest.
Mike Heck from MMA Fighting: “I just confirmed Ariel’s report that Khamzat Chimaev actually push-kicked Kevin Holland in the freakin’ chest which really popped (things) off.”
MMA Fighting reported the fracas was sparked by Paulo Costa, who isn’t fighting on the UFC279 card, amid an exchange with Chimaev, with the two having a war of words recently on social media.
Chimaev then reportedly clashed with Holland, and then with Nate Diaz’s team – which was when water bottles were thrown.
Chimaev and Diaz’s teams consisted of over 100 people backstage, White confirmed.
The part owner of the UFC said the weigh-ins and the main event would go ahead as planned, but with more of a focus on security.
For a daily dose of the best of the breaking news and exclusive content from Wide World of Sports, subscribe to our newsletter by clicking here!