Fighting erupted backstage at a UFC news conference on the Las Vegas Strip last week, according to Nevada’s combat sports officials.
The Nevada State Athletic Commission said in a statement Monday that Chairman Stephen Cloobeck and Executive Director Jeff Mullen were aware that the news conference on Thursday, Sept. 8, had been canceled midway through.
The UFC 279 press conference was held at the MGM Grand Garden Arena. Khamzat Chimaev was supposed to fight Nate Diaz, however he had to be substituted due to weight issues, therefore Tony Ferguson took his place.
Dana White, UFC President, canceled Thursday’s news conference and later told media that Chimaev had begun sparring with Kevin Holland. According to White, no one was hurt.
According to ESPN, Chimaev approached Holland backstage, and there was some shoving that resulted in people attempting to separate the two before Chimaev landed a front kick on Holland.
Tiki Ghosn, a former fighter and MMA agent, assisted in removing Chimaev, but members of Diaz’s squad mistaken him for a member of Chimaev’s team and poured water bottles at him, according to ESPN. Ghosn, according to White, was punched in the head and received slaps and kicks.
The Nevada Athletic Commission stated in its statement that it has been in contact with UFC management and that the fighting promotion is cooperating with the inquiry.
If the commission determines that a licensee has acted unlawfully, it will impose appropriate disciplinary action.
“Although ‘trash talking’ between competitive athletes is common, any escalation into physical altercations may discredit the sport of unarmed combat and is wholly unacceptable,” the panel stated.
White stated that the UFC will not sanction anyone for the event on Thursday, but that future press conferences would be more secure.
Chimaev and Holland eventually met in a catchweight fight at UFC 279, with Chimaev winning by submission in the first round.
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