Hall of Fame boxer Oscar De La Hoya provided insight into his recent move to promoting mixed martial arts, telling ESPN's Ariel Helwani on Tuesday that low fighter pay "makes me sick to my stomach."
De La Hoya said he wants "to make sure the fighters are treated fairly, making sure they have an outlet to make as much money as possible, and to find the next superstars in the sport."
Golden Boy MMA will host its first event Nov. 24 at The Forum in Inglewood, California, when Tito Ortiz (19-12-1) squares off with Chuck Liddell (21-8) for the third time in their careers. Liddell won both fights -- UFC 47 and UFC 66 -- by knockout. Liddell and Ortiz are 48 and 43, respectively.
The upcoming bout, featuring one of the sport's most intense rivalries, will be on pay-per-view for a price still to be determined. De La Hoya said both Liddell and Ortiz are "are going to make the most money they have made in their careers. I know that as a fact." Both fighters will be included in all revenue shares for the event, De La Hoya said, which does not happen in other promotions like the UFC or Bellator.
"It's a big game-changer for both guys. What fighter in the UFC can say that, other than maybe Conor McGregor?" said De La Hoya, a boxing promoter since 2002. "I do have to say in the beginning I did criticize MMA. The truth of the matter is I did feel threatened. The fact that MMA has grown so much, the fact that that the UFC has taken over, I felt a little threatened.
"It was my mistake to attack the MMA world, but I respect it like there's no tomorrow. These fighters are in there risking their lives and I strongly feel they deserve the best compensation they can get a hold of."
When asked by Helwani about a potential rivalry with the UFC down the road, De La Hoya scoffed at the notion.
"There's no competition whatsoever," he said. "What I'm trying to do is open up another platform for fighters to have. I'm just giving fighters a different avenue. To have a choice. The UFC is doing a wonderful job. Dana White, you have to commend for what he's doing. But I'm just sick and tired of fighters always coming up to me every single day, telling me they don't get paid enough money.
"I strongly feel this will not be a one-off," he added. "There's a lot of room for growth in this sport and I'm just another player in the ballgame. There's nothing wrong with that."