UFC middleweight Darren Till has given his side of Thursday’s press conference incident and explained his verbal altercation with Kevin Holland.
MMA News’ own Andrew Starc recently covered the five most memorable press conference moments in 2021-22, but it’s probably safe to say that none came close to what went down this week in Las Vegas — although it may be hard to even count the event as a presser…
After a delay to the customary pay-per-view fight week press conference, UFC President Dana White took to the stage and revealed that things would be done differently following an unprecedented backstage incident.
“Differently” ultimately became ‘not happening at all’ following a quick run of questions for Kevin Holland and Daniel Rodriguez, and reports since have shed some light on what caused the cancellation.
After White cited multiple incidents behind the curtain as the reason behind his decision to scrap the event during a media scrum, Ariel Helwani reported that a scuffle between Khamzat Chimaev and Kevin Holland had broken out, with Nate Diaz and his team’s arrival sparking things further.
Now, one member of the Chechen-born Swede’s entourage, #9-ranked middleweight Till, has described events form his point of view in an interview with TheMacLife’s Oscar Willis.
The Liverpool native noted that Chimaev had been left on his own backstage prior to the incident, with Till and the remaining members of the team heading out to the front ahead of the presser’s start.
After recalling a tense standoff with Diaz’s team, Till described the moment he knew something was going down.
“We come in, six of us each… We were waiting backstage,” Till recalled. “When we’ve come out (to sit out front)… Khamzat was on his own… I looked at Kevin (before) and Kevin was on his own… They (Diaz’s team) all looked over and I was looking at them. We were on our side, they were on their side. They were all standing up, so I was standing up. Security was like, ‘Till sit down.’ I was like, ‘No, they’re standing up, I wanna stand up.’
“Nothing was really happening… We’d look over, the occasional thing like that… (Then), I seen one of the security running backstage, so was like, ‘Okay, what’s happening here now.’ Then Dana come out and said we’re cancelling.”
Having returned to their hotel, Till said that they’d been made aware of the presence of Diaz’s team outside the building. But when the Brit and other members of Chimaev’s entourage made their way to the lobby to investigate, they were halted by UFC security.
“Khamzat went to his room… someone said Nate’s team is outside,” Till stated. “I ran down the escalator and everyone’s following me, and there was like, f*cking security and all the UFC security, ‘Till don’t go outside.’ I was like, ‘One of yous have just told us that Nate’s team is outside. I’m not going there to do nothing, but Khamzat’s staying in this hotel. They’re not staying here, so if they’ve come here, they’ve come here for one reason.'”
While White’s words on stage and initial reports drew widespread attention and speculation about what had occurred, Till suggested it was nothing out of the ordinary. For “The Gorilla,” teams protecting their fighters is to be expected.
“I don’t see this as anything. It’s just team vs. team. They’re gonna protect Nate and we’re gonna protect Khamzat. That’s all it is,” Till insisted.
Till Addresses Video Of Argument With Holland
While Till’s role in the initial exchanges at the MGM Grand Garden Arena was limited, the 29-year-old was later recorded in a verbal spat with Holland, who’s set to share the Octagon with Rodriguez this Saturday night.
In the clip, filmed and posted by Chris Owens on Instagram, the pair can be seen going back and forth at the New York-New York Hotel & Casino.
While the audio isn’t clear, Till can be heard insisting that the sizable group in attendance with Chimaev wouldn’t get involved in any physical clash. And while speaking to Willis, “The Gorilla” confirmed that.
“We was having food and one of the UFC’s security speak to me and said, ‘Kevin’s in here.’ I said, ‘There’s 30 of us and Kevin’s in with like four or five,'” Till continued. “I said, ‘If Khamzat and Kevin bump into each other, that’s their beef, none of us are gonna step in. That’s not our beef.’ … I seen Kevin and I was saying that to Kevin. I was like, ‘None of us are gonna jump in.’ I said, ‘Just worry about your fight,’ and he was like, ‘Don’t tell me what to do.’
“So I said, ‘Just do what you’re doing then mate, I don’t really give a f*ck.’ … We went back in the restaurant and Kevin, like, whatever.”
Till concluded by reiterating that the entire incident had been blown out of proportion by people who aren’t familiar with the inner workings of the fight game,
I’m here to make sure Khamzat wins his fight and gets paid, that’s what I’m here to make sure,” Till added. “All of us as fighters, I think people build it up to more than it is.”
Having also said that he and the rest of Chimaev’s team will be “by his side” vehemently for the remainder of the week, including the ceremonial weigh-ins, it stands to reason that the promotion’s security team will have their work cut out in preventing any further pre-fight altercations.
What did you make of Darren Till’s role in Thursday’s shenanigans?