Shortly after the UFC 279: Chimaev vs. Diaz Pre-fight Press Conference began on Thursday, UFC president Dana White called a halt to the media event.
The press conference was supposed to featured the main card fighters: Khamzat Chimaev, Nate Diaz, Tony Ferguson, Li Jingliang, Kevin Holland, Daniel Rodriguez, Ilrene Aldana, Macy Chiasson, Johnny Walker, and Ion Cuțelaba.
Only two fighters took the stage before backstage altercations between fighters caused a sudden halt to the press conference.
“This thing ain’t gonna happen. I apologize everybody,” White told those in attendance. “I’m in 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.”
Following the press conference cancelation, White fielded questions from the media bout the incident.
“Let me just start by saying that I’m not going to tell everybody what when down back there, but there were multiple crazy, I don’t even know what to call it. How ever many years, 22 years, however long I’ve been doing this, we’ve never had an incident like today,” White said.
“All hell broke loose out here. We stopped it, but we didn’t do a good job of not letting it happen. I don’t know what went on here. It’s never happened before, and we’ll be ready for it the next time.”
The incident immediately sparked policy changes
Some fighters have dozens of people in their entourages, and that can lead to issues. The fight promotion runs with a ‘skeleton crew’ during press conferences, but will add more security in the future.
“What I didn’t want to do was have all these guys some out there together. It would have been bad. The 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 said.
“Multiple fighters were involved in this thing. The camps hadn’t even gotten into it yet, but I could see where this was going,” White explained. “You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to figure out where this whole press conference was headed.”
“We come here with a skeleton crew for the press conferences,” White said. “We weren’t expecting this. It’s never happened before.”
White admitted that the number of people allowed to accompany a fighter at press conferences in the future may have to be reevaluated. Added security will also be implemented.
“Press conferences will definitely have more security,” White said. “What we do is, we look at how this happened today, why were we unprepared for this, why were we not able to manage this backstage better than we did, and we’ll be better the next time we do a press conference. This will never happen to us again… We just didn’t have enough people.”
Hear all of White said below, including calling the press conference a ‘shit show.’
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