Dana White was unexpectedly forced to scrap the UFC 279 pre-fight press conference last night after a dramatic series of backstage incidents threw their plans out the window.
While all the drama happened behind-the-scenes and is rumored to have been sparked off by a confrontation between Khamzat Chimaev and Kevin Holland, for those tuning in to watch the presser it was clear that something wasn’t right when it was delayed, then the format was hastily changed so that only two fighters would be going up on-stage at a time.
The press conference eventually began with Kevin Holland and Daniel Rodriguez alongside Dana White and naturally the media wanted to know what was really going on, but Dana White was doing his best to avoid getting into details, simply describing it as “an absolute sh*tshow.” backstage
Holland and Rodriguez soldiered on for a few minutes, answering questions and squaring off before exiting the stage, at which point there was a painfully awkward wait for the next two fighters to show up on stage, leading to an increasingly agitated White to take decision to pull the plug on the presser, telling a staffer, “F*ck it. Wrap. Wrap it.”
“Yeah, this ain’t going to happen,” White then told the disappointed crowd in attendance. “I apologize, everybody. I am in very weird waters here. This has never happened in the history of this company. Let me tell you this is the right decision not to do this press conference right now. Yeah, I hear you. I’m with you. But for everybody’s safety, this is the right decision. I apologize.”
Afterwards, White held a hastily arranged media scrum as reporters tried to get him to shed light on what actually happened, though for the most part he remained tight-lipped on the specifics.
“What I didn’t want to happen was have all these guys come out together, it would have been bad,” White said. “Diaz camp showed up with 57 people, Khamzat’s team had 30-something people, and then you had multiple guys going on back here. It was crazy. It was absolutely nuts back here.”
White then went on to confirm that it wasn’t just verbal confrontations between those involved and that there multiple situations all happening at once.
“It was very physical, there was lots of stuff going on back there, so I made the right decision, believe me,” White said.
However, White didn’t believe that any of the fights on the card were in jeopardy as a result of the confrontations, but in the heat of the moment he had felt that if the presser had been allowed to continue then it could have put Saturday night’s show at risk, and they didn’t have enough security to deal with the sheer number of people involved.
White went on to acknowledge that they’d have to make changes in the future, including beefing up security for UFC 279’s weigh-ins and event on Saturday night, while going forward he also said they’d have to look at cutting back on the entourages that fighters have with them during fight weeks.
Check out videos of the UFC 279 press conference and White’s media scrum below and stay tuned as we’ll have more details on what actually happened from those involved in follow-up posts.