Dana White Cancels UFC 279 Press Conference After 'S--t Show' Altercation Backstage

Scott Polacek@@ScottPolacekFeatured Columnist IVSeptember 8, 2022

LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - SEPTEMBER 08: UFC president Dana White hosts the UFC 279 press conference at MGM Grand Garden Arena on September 08, 2022 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC)
Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC

Saturday's UFC 279 event between Khamzat Chimaev and Nate Diaz is still scheduled to take place in Las Vegas, but there was no pre-fight press conference on Thursday.

UFC President Dana White canceled the press conference and said it was a "s--t show" backstage, per Damon Martin of MMA Fighting. Martin noted it "sounds like there was some kind of altercation between the fighters that forced the format to change."

White went on to say "for everybody's safety, this is the right decision" and added, "I'm in very weird waters, this has never happened in the history of this company."

UFC @ufc

That's a wrap from the <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/UFC279?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#UFC279</a> Presser 😅<br><br>See you tomorrow for weigh-ins! <a href="https://t.co/mxf9f9L5hJ">pic.twitter.com/mxf9f9L5hJ</a>

MMA reporter Ariel Helwani provided more details about what transpired:

Ariel Helwani @arielhelwani

Here’s the full story regarding why the UFC 279 press conference was canceled before it started. <a href="https://t.co/adIIQfKFXW">pic.twitter.com/adIIQfKFXW</a>

Ariel Helwani @arielhelwani

Per sources close to Chimaev, he was flying solo backstage. Not sure what the ratio was but he was definitely outnumbered, fwiw.

Ariel Helwani @arielhelwani

Total chaos, I’m told. Not enough security. Fighters too close. Could have been much worse but it got out of hand quick between multiple camps.

Ariel Helwani @arielhelwani

Punches and kicks were thrown, I’m told. As were objects.

Perhaps it isn't much of a surprise there was an incident.

After all, Chimaev suggested he was willing to fight before Saturday during an interview with ESPN (h/t Jesse Holland of MMA Mania):

"If they wanna fight before (Saturday), f--k the money, brother, I'm gonna fight with them. I love to fight. I've been born for war. I'm inside a warrior, don't care. When the fights come, you don't care about money or what's behind it, just fight. If he wants to fight there with his team, I have like 20 guys with me. We'll fight with all the teams, you know. I hope so. I would love if it happens, something crazy things there. His team is old, brother. My team is fresh. We kill this. His team almost handicapped, brother."

Thursday's canceled press conference is another storyline heading into Saturday's matchup.

Holland noted Chimaev could earn a 170-pound title shot if he defeats Diaz, although he may have to wait until Leon Edwards and Kamaru Usman fight for a third time.

While those in attendance Thursday didn't see the press conference they expected, Tony Ferguson provided some entertainment:

ESPN MMA @espnmma

Tony Ferguson entertained the crowd after Dana White unexpectedly canceled the <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/UFC279?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#UFC279</a> press conference <a href="https://t.co/DR2qg0iWRd">pic.twitter.com/DR2qg0iWRd</a>

Ferguson will face Li Jingliang as part of Saturday's card. Elsewhere, Kevin Holland will go up against Daniel Rodriguez, Irene Aldana will face Macy Chiasson, and Johnny Walker will fight Ion Cutelaba.

Yet the main event at T-Mobile Arena will be between Diaz and Chimaev.

Diaz is 21-13-0 and coming off two straight losses, while Chimaev is 11-0-0.