UFC President Dana White had strong words for those involved in putting on a recent MMA bout between Chuck Liddell and Tito Ortiz, many of which were reserved for ex-boxing champion Oscar De La Hoya.
Repeatedly blasting De La Hoya as a “cokehead,” White castigated the 45-year-old retired boxer for staging a fight Saturday that resulted in Liddell, a former UFC light heavyweight champion who was encouraged to retire by White years ago, suffering a first-round knockout loss to his longtime rival.
White also criticized the California State Athletic Commission for sanctioning the fight, in which the 43-year-old Ortiz avenged knockout losses to 48-year-old Liddell. Among the first major UFC stars, and one with whom White forged a friendship, Liddell retired in 2010 after a stretch of five losses in six fights, including four by knockout.
“Chuck Liddell is almost 50 years old and has no business fighting anymore. The fact the state of California let that fight happen is disgusting. It’s disgusting,” White said Tuesday on an episode of “UFC Unfiltered” (via ESPN). “Chuck Liddell has an incredible legacy. He’s a huge superstar. Anybody who claims to be a friend of Chuck Liddell and was anywhere near [that fight] is full of [expletive]. They’re not a friend of Chuck Liddell. To let him go in and fight this fight is terrible.”
A prominent boxing promoter who was making his first foray into MMA, De La Hoya signed Liddell and Ortiz in July to his Golden Boy company, then said the next month that their partnership with him would have them “making a hell of a lot more money than they have with anybody else.” He added at the time, “I’m sick and tired of these fighters coming up to me and saying they get paid crap.”
Referring to White’s comments in September on Liddell-Ortiz III, in which he said: “I hope the event is very successful for them. But I wish it wasn’t happening,” De La Hoya said shortly before the bout: “Being a fighter myself, I would never, ever, like somebody to tell me that I should retire. You never tell a fighter to retire. That’s his business."
In the wake of Liddell’s loss at the Forum in Inglewood, Calif., in which “The Iceman” appeared slower than his opponent and initially hesitant to trade shots, White unloaded his frustration on De La Hoya, who has frequently discussed his issues with substance abuse and has sought treatment at rehabilitation clinics. “I heard last week the cokehead, ‘Oscar De La Weirdo,’ is talking [expletive], that I don’t have any place to tell guys when to retire. It’s called friendship. It’s friendship, you [expletive] cokehead. I’ve been friends with Chuck Liddell for 20 years, and the reality is Chuck Liddell retired when he should have retired, eight or nine years ago.”
White acknowledged that Liddell wanted to get back into the Octagon, saying (via MMA Junkie): “Chuck Liddell loves to fight. That’s his passion. That’s what he loves in life."
He added, though, that “there comes a day and age — fighting is a young man’s game,” and that Liddell should not have “allowed himself to be talked into this stupid [expletive].”
“When I asked Chuck to retire, he didn’t want to, either,” the UFC president said. “He should have retired when he did and stayed retired. But like the cokehead said, Chuck’s a grown man and can do whatever he wants to do. But that’s when the state of California has to step in and save him from himself.”
“I got in great shape; he motivated me. I was ready for this fight, and I got caught,” Liddell said Saturday after the fight (via MMA Mania). “I made a mistake, and it is what it is. It wasn’t my best showing, but I’ve got no excuses. I started getting comfortable, and I got caught.
"We’re going to have to sit back and think about it. I don’t know what I’m going to do. I got in shape, and I hope I motivated a lot of other people to do the same. I was still able to perform. This is how champions do it. You have to fail to succeed. Any loss is a learning experience.”
In his comments Tuesday, White also took aim at De La Hoya’s claims of giving fighters better compensation than what they have received from companies such as the UFC. “Out of 14 fights on the card, five bouts were amateur fights, which means he didn’t pay them jack [expletive]," he said. “And 12 of the professional fighters on the card made less than [$3,000 to show and $3,000 to win]. What the [expletive] are you talking about, you cokehead junkie?”
According to MMA Fighting, Liddell was paid $250,000 for the fight and Ortiz $200,000, with the latter earning no bonus for his victory. Both athletes are also expected to get further revenue in the form of a percentage of the pay-per-view sales.
The next-highest-paid fighters, per the website, were former UFC middleweight/light heavyweight Tom Lawlor, at a flat $25,000, and former UFC lightweight Gleison Tibau, who earned $20,000 for defeating Efrain Escudero. Deron Winn, who defeated Lawlor in a decision, made $10,000, including a $5,000 win bonus.
Ortiz responded to White’s comments on Instagram, saying he did not think he and Liddell “were compensated correctly for all that we gave & sacrificed” for the UFC and asking its president: “When you sold the company for over 4.5 billion dollars how much of that did Chuck and I get? Nothing.” Ortiz added, “I want it to be about the fighters & giving them the opportunity to share in all the rewards this business has to offer to where they don’t have to fight when they are 43 & 48.”
“I hope somebody talks De La Hoya into fighting again,” White said. “I hope the state of California makes the fight, and I hope he gets knocked out just like Chuck Liddell in the first round. [Expletive] cokehead nut ball.”
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