Today was supposed to be the UFC 279 press conference in Las Vegas. But it was cancelled after chaos erupted backstage following a confrontation between Khamzat Chimaev and Kevin Holland with, inevitably, the Diaz brothers getting involved.
Ariel Helwani has the most detailed explanation of what happened,
“At the press conference there’s usually a curtain, behind the curtain is where the octagon is where and people are hanging around before going out,” he explained.
“There’s Kamzat Chimaev and his team and there’s Kevin Holland and his team and they started to exchange some words and started pushing each other. No serious physical activity in terms of serious punches and kicks landed but Tiki Ghosn, who is a long time MMA fighter turned MMA manager, happened to be back there and got in between them and broke it up. There was hardly any security, way to many team members and fiery fighters (but) Tiki was the guy who broke the whole thing up,” Helwani continued.
Here’s the full story regarding why the UFC 279 press conference was canceled before it started. pic.twitter.com/adIIQfKFXW
— Ariel Helwani (@arielhelwani) September 9, 2022
Ghosn might have been the peacemaker but his presence would ultimately lead to an even more serious confrontation involving Nick Diaz and Nate Diaz.
“Then Nate and his team turn up and see Tiki standing next to Chimaev. Nate and his team go a long way with Tiki and are confused and unhappy about that. Words are exchanged, then all of a sudden water bottles are being thrown then the whole thing gets out of hand. I believe Tiki got hit by a bottle or two (and) once that escalated everyone was pulled apart and they decided to cancel the press conference.”
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All dressed up
While the press conference itself was cancelled no fighters were seriously injured so the UFC 279 fight card remains intact. But one major loser was Jingliang Li who had bought a brand new suit and been practising his English in preparation for the press conference.
The Chinese welterweight found himself all dressed up with nowhere to go. But there was some good news for Jingliang as former for Chimaev supposedly offered to pay for the suit!
Shoutout to Li Jingliang, who had been preparing for this UFC 279 press conference. Looked super sharp in a new custom suit and had been practicing his English for the platform. Bummer.
— Marc Raimondi (@marcraimondi) September 9, 2022
Out of blows
Jingliang was reportedly involved in the fracas although it is not clear what his role was. He is on good terms with Chimaev and they ran into each other at the Performance Institute in Las Vegas this week.
The Swedish star might have submitted him at UFC 267 earlier this year but Jingliang says there are no hard feelings,
“There is an old Chinese saying ‘out of blows, friendship grows’. If you need anything in China just let me know,” he told Chimaev.
“Out of blows, friendship grows”
— UFC on BT Sport (@btsportufc) September 7, 2022
There is a rumour that Chimaev has even offered to pay for Jingliang’s suit! Having earned $50,000 USD performance bonuses for his last five fights the undefeated Swedish star could probably afford it.
On Saturday night (local time) at the T-Mobile Arena he takes on Nate Diaz in the UFC 279 headliner. It will be Chimaev’s first time headlining a pay per view card and he comes in as a massive favourite.
Jingliang has co-main even status. He faces former UFC interim lightweight champion Tony Ferguson at 170lbs and will surely get another chance to show off his English skills in the octagon afterwards, if he wins!