The UFC has made the unprecedented decision to cancel its UFC 279 press conference after an ugly brawl broke out backstage.
Already starting half an hour late with no notice or explanation, White opened the presser saying: “Absolute s***show back there. There’s lots of crazy s**t back there. We got it handled.”
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Instead of having all the fighters come out at the same time, White said the fighters would come out two at a time to front the crowd.
But after Kevin Holland and Daniel Rodriguez came out for their interview, White pulled the pin on the event.
“This ain’t going to happen,” White said to a disappointed crowd. “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.”
The crowd booed and was perplexed by the wild scenes but it was nothing compared to what happened behind the scenes.
MMA Fighting reported the press conference was cancelled after “chaos happened” behind the scenes, as White explained it was a melee between Holland and Khamzat Chimaev which kicked it off.
The fight then saw more fighters and their teams join the fray.
Holland took to social media to further stoke the flames.
White later explained that there wasn’t enough security backstage which allowed the altercation to explode.
It’s an issue White pledged to fix immediately and wouldn’t stop the fights from happening.
“No guys, this is what we do. We’re in the fight business. These things happen.”
Asked if he was caught in the middle of it, White said: “Yeah, I was just trying to tell everybody: ‘What the f*** are you doing. What’s going on? Stop!’”
MMA journalist Ariel Helwani said Holland and Chimaev’s teams were jawing at each other and there was some pushing and shoving.
Helwani said it was “way too many people, way too many team members” and not enough security.
Former MMA fighter turned manager Tiki Ghosn then entered the fray and broke it up.
But then Nate Diaz’s team arrived and saw Ghosn standing with Chimaev’s team.
“Nate and his team go a long way with Tiki and are kind of confused about that, unhappy about that, words exchanged back and forth and then all of a sudden water bottles were thrown,” Helwani explained.
He said Ghosn was hit by some water bottles and when everyone was pulled apart, the UFC decided to pull the plug on the press conference.
He added: “General sentiment seems to be that it could have been MUCH worse but was also a very ugly scene, if that makes sense. Much worse in that people could have gotten seriously hurt. Luckily, not hearing anyone was seriously hurt at this time.”
They were incredible scenes and UFC fans wanted to see the vision.
Aussie NBA star Jock Landale posted: “Someone spill the beans on what happened back stage at @ufc presser..”
The Ringer’s Peter Carroll tweeted: “This presser is utterly bizarre. And UFC is the king of utterly bizarre press conferences.”