Dana White cancels UFC 279 presser after 'shit show' breaks out backstage

Jeff Bottari / UFC / Getty

UFC president Dana White abruptly canceled the UFC 279 press conference on Thursday after altercations between fighters backstage.

"I'm in very weird waters here. This has never happened in the history of this company," White said. "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 apologize."

White initially said the press conference would be delayed due to "a big shit show going on in the back," according to Yahoo Sports' Kevin Iole.

The incident started with an exchange between Khamzat Chimaev and Kevin Holland, who reportedly threw punches and kicks at each other, according to MMA reporter Ariel Helwani.

The situation then spilled over to Nate Diaz's team, Helwani adds.

White confirmed the reports during a media scrum minutes later, per The Athletic's Greg Rosenstein.

Chimaev and Holland have developed a rivalry over the last several months as they've been going back-and-forth on social media and in interviews.

The altercation Thursday began after Chimaev approached Holland backstage, sources told ESPN's Marc Raimondi. Several individuals reportedly pulled away Chimaev, including Li Jingliang - who's set to fight Tony Ferguson at UFC 279 - and former fighter and MMA agent Tiki Ghosn.

Diaz's team thought Ghosn was part of Chimaev's staff after seeing them together during the skirmish, which resulted in some members of Diaz's staff throwing water bottles at Ghosn and Chimaev's team, Raimondi reports.

"There were multiple things going on back here at the same time. Once it all started erupting, it was a complete shit show," White said.

"If it wasn't for Tiki, we would have been in big trouble. Tiki took a couple for the team and he wasn't on the team," he added.

Holland and Daniel Rodriguez were the only fighters who appeared for their press conferences with White before the media event was canceled. White later said the UFC didn't have enough people backstage to control the chaos, according to Jose Youngs of MMA Fighting.

UFC 279 is headlined by a welterweight bout between Chimaev and Diaz. The event is set to take place Saturday in Las Vegas.

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Dana White cancels UFC 279 presser after 'shit show' breaks out backstage
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