PFL received a substantial investment from Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund earlier this year, and also counts Kevin Hart, Mark Burnett and Wiz Khalifa as minority owners.
Professional Fighters League (PFL), backed by Saudi Arabia’s new sports fund, has completed the acquisition of Bellator from Paramount Global, solidifying its position as a dominant force in the world of mixed martial arts (MMA).
PFL, launched in 2018, received a significant boost in August when Saudi Arabia invested a reported $100m in the league through its sovereign wealth fund’s new entity, SRJ Sports Investments.
The financial details of the deal remain undisclosed. The acquisition follows Paramount’s recent announcement of its intention to close the sports operations at Showtime by year-end as part of an ongoing network overhaul.
PFL will maintain the Bellator brand, positioning it as a distinctive event product. A reimagined Bellator product is slated for launch in 2024, spearheaded by the Bellator International Champions Series. This series will feature eight fight events annually, held in major cities worldwide, each showcasing two compelling co-main fights vying for championship belts.
Bellator joins the roster of live fight franchises under the PFL umbrella, which includes PFL League Season, PFL PPV Super Fights, PFL Challenger Series, PFL International Leagues, and Bellator.
With this strategic move, PFL aims to meet the growing demand from fans and media by offering a year-round calendar of live fight content, encompassing a total of 30 premium MMA events per year. Additionally, PFL is set to organise the PFL Champions vs. Bellator Champions Mega-Event next year.
Details regarding Bellator events, distribution, partnerships, and management are set to be unveiled in the coming announcements. Donn Davis, PFL Chairman and Founder, along with Peter Murray, PFL CEO, will continue to lead and operate the combined company.
“PFL is now a global powerhouse in MMA,” stated Davis. “Our Bellator acquisition turbocharges PFL’s mission to innovate the sport and become the industry co-leader.”
Murray said: “The combined PFL and Bellator fighter rosters are second to none in MMA. We can’t wait to bring MMA fans what they have been asking for – best vs best with the PFL Champions vs Bellator Champions Mega-Event.”
MMA, boasting 650m global fans, holds the third-largest fan base of all sports worldwide. The sport’s annual revenue, currently at $1.75bn, is projected to experience a 10% annual growth, reaching $4bn by 2032. Citi and LionTree served as financial advisors to PFL, with Sidley Austin LLP providing legal counsel.