LAS VEGAS – The UFC 279 pre-fight press conference was canceled mid-session Tuesday because of what company president Dana White called a “big sh*t show.”
The reason for the cancellation was not detailed, although White explained to a booing crowd before he walked off stage that “for Everybody’s safety, this is the right decision.”
Initially, there was a lengthy delay – not an irregular practice when stars like Nate Diaz are involved. However, UFC staff also shuffled the name tags about, as Diaz, Khamzat Chimaev, Tony Ferguson, Li Jingliang, Kevin Holland, and Daniel Rodriguez were scheduled to appear.
The latter two were the only ones to appear, however. They took the stage with White, who announced to the crowd that initially Fighters would be brought out in pairs. Holland and Rodriguez fielded a few questions and were squared off, after Holland, like White, declined to give significant comment on the “sh*t” that went down.
After Holland and Rodriguez were escorted off the stage, there was visible conflict from White, who looked to his staff for a sign of what was to come next. It appeared Khamzat Chimaev and Nate Diaz should be next, but after an Interjection from White’s personal security guard, White said, “F*ck it. Wrap. Wrap it up.”
White continued into the microphone, “Yeah, this ain’t going to happen. I apologize, everyone. I am in very strange 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.”
While reasons remain unclear about the reason for cancellation, all six fighters who were scheduled to be involved shared the same Welterweight division. In addition to usual pre-fight bad blood between opponents, Chimaev and Holland had previously had run-ins. Additionally, Diaz and Ferguson have exchanged words through interviews throughout the years.
UFC 279 takes place Saturday at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. The main card airs on pay-per-view following prelims on ESPNEWS and early prelims on ESPN+.
For more on the card, visit MMA Junkie’s event hub for UFC 279.