Li Jingliang witnessed the disturbance that caused the pre-fight news conference for UFC 279 to be cancelled firsthand.
The altercation, which featured Khamzat Chimaev, Kevin Holland, Nate Diaz, and members of their respective teams, took place on the Thursday before UFC 279 took place. Clips of the brawl have since emerged, and on Monday’s episode of The MMA Hour, Jingliang shared his first-hand account of what he witnessed. UFC president Dana White claimed an incident between Holland and Chimaev was the original spark for the issue, which eventually developed into a much wider conflict.
Li Jingliang details backstage incident that caused UFC 279 conference cancellation
“We red corner were on [one] side [of the arena], so when we were waiting for the press conference, we made a line. So Holland is the first, I’m the second,” Jingliang explained through a translator. “And when Khamzat came in, in my eyes, he was trying to say hello to us, so he come up to me and then went to Kevin, and in my eyes he was trying to say hello to Kevin. But I don’t know why, maybe Kevin felt he was a little bit aggressive, and then he just pushed him — Kevin pushed Khamzat. And then Khamzat just went backward and came back with that kick at Holland, and so then they threw punches and kicks to each other.
“So everybody was shocked. And then I just grabbed Khamzat, I held Khamzat and I separated them and I told Khamzat, ‘Not today. Not today, bro. Not today.’ So it’s complete chaos there. … Then everybody comes — the securities, even Dana [White]. We just separated these two, but they still [were getting into it with] each other.”
“Dana went on the stage and they changed the plan, so they let Kevin and ‘D-Rod’ get onto the stage first to separate everybody,” Jingliang said. “… But while Kevin and ‘D-Rod’ were on the stage, we were waiting in the backstage, Nate came with his crew.
“I can’t remember how many people, maybe 10 or more. And then he just [said] something to Khamzat, and then I saw a water bottle thrown by Nate to Khamzat.”
Transcription courtesy of MMA Fighting