First a champion inside the ring, then one of Boxing’s most prominent promoters outside of it — in July of 2018, Oscar De La Hoya announced that he was moving in on the mixed martial arts business. Golden Boy MMA kicked off their hopeful new venture with a battle of former UFC champions and long-time rivals. Tito Ortiz vs. Chuck Liddell 3: a fight more than ten years in the making.
Liddell returned from a prolonged retirement to take the bout — strapping on the gloves for the first time since 2010. And Ortiz – who himself retired in 2017 – made it clear that this was the only fight that could get him back in the cage again. It was hoped that the two aging legends would deliver big numbers for De La Hoya’s promotional offshoot.
“I mean, 200-300-400,000 is a no-brainer,” De La Hoya told TSN in an interview leading up to the event. “Given the fact that they’ve been involved with huge events over at the UFC. Like I said, they’re pioneers, they’re staples in the industry. People know Chuck Liddell and Tito Ortiz, within the industry. The PPV model is a whole different animal. If you’re fighting on linear TV and PPV, it’s two different audiences. And the fact that they have a history within that PPV audience is a big plus for everyone that’s involved in this event.”
The results, however, have been reportedly much much less impressive. Quotes of a PPV buy rate in the 25-40,000 range left many skeptical that De La Hoya would maintain his interest in promoting MMA beyond the Liddell vs. Ortiz 3 card. But, in a more recent interview with TSN, De La Hoya seems un-dissuaded from the future prospects of Golden Boy MMA.
Oscar De La Hoya discusses Golden Boy MMA pay-per-view numbers, fighter pay and continuing to do more mixed martial arts events going forward. pic.twitter.com/zbipgAuSvK
— Aaron Bronsteter (@aaronbronsteter) December 11, 2018
“I mean look, first of all the LA Times is wrong,” De La Hoya responded when asked about the disappointing numbers. “And second of all, they didn’t count our digital buys, which far exceeded the linear buys that we did. So, those reports are false.”
“If Dana White wants to criticize the fact that I put a show together for Chuck Liddell and Tito Ortiz,” he added, “It’s because they wanted to get paid. They wanted to make money. If Dana White is going to keep criticizing me, then pay your fighters so they won’t have to be fighting when they’re 49-years-old. It’s as easy as that. And so, as long as Dana White’s not paying his fighters, I’m going to continue promoting MMA.”
In response to criticism that prelims fighters on Golden Boy’s first MMA card made as little as $1000, De La Hoya responded that they were “amateur” and “three-round” fighters. He also added that it was his “first show” and a “great success.”
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No word yet on when De La Hoya’s next MMA card may be, but he may find it difficult to attract more top talent after the struggles of this first event.
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