Will the war of words between two of the fight game’s most successful promoters turn into an actual altercation?
That’s where things went during a bizarre Thursday in which the feud between UFC president Dana White and Golden Boy Promotions head Oscar De La Hoya escalated over dueling media appearances.
On Thursday afternoon, De La Hoya, a 2014 inductee into the International Boxing Hall of Fame, had challenged White to a fight during an appearance on The Luke Thomas Show on Sirius XM.
“Let’s get in the ring,” De La Hoya said. “Yeah, why not? Let’s get in the ring. Three rounds, let’s do this.”
While the rivalry between the two promoters dates back years, things really heated up in recent weeks as Golden Boy, previously an all-boxing promotional company, staged its first MMA event, using two retired UFC legends as their first main event in Chuck Liddell and Tito Ortiz.
In the aftermath of the heavily panned event, in which Ortiz earned a one-sided, first-round knockout victory over Liddell at the Forum in Inglewood, Calif., the two sides have ramped up their verbal attacks on one another. White has referred to de la Hoya as a “cokehead,” while De La Hoya has repeatedly criticized the UFC’s pay scale.
On Thursday, a visibly angry White appeared on the ESPN show “First Take” as he attempted to refute De La Hoya’s claims.
“It’s one thing to sit around with your friends and lie. It’s another thing to go on ESPN and lie,” White said. “So here are the facts. I have paid Chuck Liddell more money over the years not to fight in the last seven years than he paid him to fight Tito Ortiz. That’s a fact, number one. From 2011 to 2017, when I asked him to retire, we paid him around $400,000 a year to not fight.”
According to official fight purses released by the California State Athletic Commission, Liddell was paid $250,000 for the bout, a figure which does not include potential PPV points. The PPV was estimated at 30,000 buys.
White went on to point out that of the $580,000 in disclosed fighter payouts, $450,000 went to Liddell and Ortiz, and just $95,000 went to the 16 fights not below the main event and co-feature bouts. White said that the UFC has paid $1.2 million to undercard fighters thus far in 2018. That is an aggregate number over the course of more than 40 events over the year, with an average of about eight undercard fights per show, which would further have to be divided by two fighters per fight to arrive at a per-fight figure.
“This is about an idiot coming on this show and lying,” White said. “He’s a liar.”
Regardless where the truth lies, De La Hoya believes this can best be hashed out in the ring. De la Hoya conveniently offered his own Cinco de Mayo weekend card featuring Saul “Canelo” Alvarez as a platform for the bout.
“Let’s do this under Canelo Cinco de Mayo,” de la Hoya. “I’ll even give you five months so you can get off the juice and then we can, you know, get in great shape and then we go three rounds, and then, ’m going to give you what, a 50-pound advantage? That’s okay, I can take you on. Let’s do it.”