Khamzat Chimaev appears unrepentant after the backstage brawl ahead of UFC 279 caused his pre-fight press conference to be canceled in an unprecedented move.
Chimaev clashed with Kevin Holland and Nick and Nate Diaz before his fight with Nate Diaz on Saturday.
A fight broke out between Chimaev and the Diaz brothers, along with several other fighters and their respective camps.
That forced UFC president Dana White to take the unprecedented step of canceling Thursday’s pre-fight press conference.
Khamzat Chimaev appeared unrepentant after a shocking backstage brawl on Thursday
Further details continued to emerge about the behind-the-scenes, but Chimaev was unapologetic.
He posted on his Instagram story about the fight: “I told them: Don’t joke with us. Kevin got what he deserved. Diaz got what he deserved.’
The press conference was canceled minutes after it began due to an “absolute show” behind the scenes, according to White, which included a physical altercation between several fighters and their respective camps.
“S*** show – absolute s*** show back there,” White told the assembled media in Las Vegas. “Ask them questions. There’s a lot of crazy s*** going on back there.’
The media session was scheduled ahead of Saturday’s UFC 279, which is headlined by a welterweight bout between Chimaev and former UFC Lightweight Championship contender Diaz.
As White later told reporters off-camera, a fight broke out between Holland, who is fighting on the undercard, and Chimaev. However, the fight did not stop there. According to multiple reports, other athletes and their respective camps were also embroiled in the fray.
Chimaev and Nate Diaz are scheduled to fight Saturday at UFC 279 in Las Vegas
UFC president Dana White was forced to cancel Thursday’s press conference moments before it was due to begin due to an “absolute show” backstage that included a physical altercation between several fighters and their respective camps.
ESPN reported that Chimaev walked toward Holland backstage, leading to some shoving and people trying to separate them before Chimaev hit Holland with a front kick.
Chimaev was then pulled out by Li Jingliang and Tiki Ghosn, along with on-site security, before Holland chased after him as the two were kept apart.
Members of Diaz’s team then saw Ghosn and Chiamev together and were apparently offended to see Ghosn, a perceived ally, standing next to Chimaev.
They then started yelling at him before some members of Diaz’s team decided to throw bottles at Ghosn and Chiamev’s teams, with Ghosn being hit on the head and also receiving several slaps and kicks.
Darren Till, an ally of Chimaev, provided further insight into what had happened.
“When Hamzat [Chimaev] I came out for the press conference, we were all up and doing our thing, and they were doing their thing,” he told TheMacLife.
“Then I saw one of the security guards running backstage and then they came out saying they canceled the press conference at MGM.
So everybody gets up and leaves, and I couldn’t get to the entrance, so me and one of Cam’s guys, our training partner, ran and went to the back, didn’t see much and stuff. it must have happened before.
We’re back at the hotel and Hamzat is staying here and we hear that Nate’s team has come here and if they have then it’s for a reason.
“I don’t see this as anything. It’s just team vs. team, they’ll protect Nate and we’ll protect Hamzat.
“The funny thing is, they were all in black and we were all in black, so imagine if I had started punching some of my own team.
“Then there was no one outside, so it was like everything. Then we ate food and then security came up to us and said Kevin Holland’s team is here and there are 30 of us and he only has four or five.
“If it goes down to Hamzat, that’s their beef, 30 of us won’t jump on Kevin.
Darren Till revealed what really happened behind the scenes of the brawl, but downplayed the reasons
“Then I saw Kevin and I said ‘none of us are going to jump you, just worry about your friends’ and he said don’t tell me what to do, so I said ‘do whatever you do, I’ t really give af ***’ and then one of his team said something to one of mine and I said ‘bro that’s not it’ and we went back to the restaurant.’
However, despite the brawl between several fighters and their attendants, Till played down the fight.
He said: “That’s exactly how it is. I think people out there build it up more than it is, we are fighters who don’t think about it.
“One hundred million percent (he could have started), all I know is Diaz’s team, like 57 of them are there and we’re here like 35 of us. Most of them are fighters and we are all fighters, if we get close, something is going to be said.
“Most of us come from the streets and most of us come from. Somebody’s going to look at somebody and then we’re going to fight, that’s what’s going to happen. It’s probably going to go off. Of course it can.
“I’m here to make sure Khamzat wins his fight and gets paid.”
Chimaev originally clashed with Kevin Holland, who is fighting on the undercard at UFC 279
After the backstage spat, White paid tribute to Ghosn. He said: “If it wasn’t for Tiki, we’d be in big trouble. Tiki took a couple for the team and was not on the team.
White then emphasized that at the future press conference he will have more security behind the scenes to try to ensure that similar incidents do not happen again.
He explained: “This is what we do. That’s the business we’re in. This is the combat operation. These things happen. What we’re doing is looking at how this happened today — why were we unprepared for it? Why didn’t we manage this background better than we did? And we’ll be better the next time we hold a press conference. This will not happen to us again.’
Longtime MMA Beat reporter Ariel Helwani posted a video on Twitter after the incident explaining what had happened.
He said: “They started exchanging some words,” Helwani said of Holland and Chimaev’s respective teams. “They got really close to each other and they were pushing each other and whatnot. No real physical activity in terms of kicks, punches landed. But there was definitely some physicality, if you will.’
Helwani said former UFC fighter-turned-manager Ghosn broke up the fight, adding that there wasn’t enough security for all the people backstage at the time.
But things did not end there.
“Then Nate and his team show up as the whole thing between Holland and Chimaev fades away,” Helwani continued.
“Words are being exchanged, things are being exchanged back and forth, and then all of a sudden water bottles are being thrown back and forth,” Helwani added. “Then the whole thing gets out of hand.
Despite the fight, Saturday’s event remains scheduled for the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.
The welterweight bout features a rising superstar in Chimaev (11-0) against longtime fan favorite in Diaz (21-13).
Diaz (pictured) and his team apparently took offense to seeing Ghosn, a perceived ally, stand by Chimaev when things seemed to be going down, according to Helwani
Chimaev, from Stockholm, Sweden, by way of Chechnya, has had an incredible run in the UFC, winning all five of his fights. The first four were sudden and creditable finishes and the fifth, at UFC 273, was a decision win over Gilbert Burns that will be high on the 2022 Fight of the Year list.
Diaz, from Stockton, California, has been in the UFC since 2007. And while he’s never held a title, he’s hugely popular for his willingness to take on all comers and engage in exciting fights, most notably a high-profile pairing with Conor McGregor, in which each fighter won a piece.
But Diaz has lost three of his last four and is entering the final fight of his UFC contract.
Earlier this week, speaking to ESPN, Chimaev said he was ready to fight Diaz and his team before the main event.
Tsimaev had to be restrained by his team-mates after clashing with Paulo Costa on Monday
“If they want to fight before (Saturday), about the money, bro, I’ll fight them. I like to fight,” he said.
“I was born for war. I’m inside a warrior, never mind. When the fight comes, you don’t care about the money or what’s behind it, you just fight.’
The press conference brawl caps an eventful week for Chimaev ahead of the scheduled bout, after he collided with Paulo Costa at the UFC Performance Institute on Monday and had to be held back by his teammates.