Mixed martial arts organization Professional Fighters League (PFL) has acquired Bellator from Paramount Global, saying the deal includes top fighters and creates “a roster now equal in stature to the UFC.”
Financial details were not disclosed. The deal comes after Paramount announced last month that it plans to shutter Showtime’s sports operations by the end of the year in an ongoing overhaul of the network.
All of Bellator’s newly acquired fighters will become part of the PFL platform and will be available to compete in PFL fight franchises. As a result, the league said, the PFL and UFC now feature rosters that are 30% comprised of female fighters who are in the top 25 independent world rankings in their weight classes, and the PFL with Bellator now has the best female fighter lineup. females in the world.
The UFC is owned by Endeavor, led by Ari Emanuel, through TKO Holdings, a new public company that houses the UFC and WWE. The PFL launched in 2018. Saudi Arabia invested around $100 million in the league in August through its sovereign wealth fund’s new vehicle, SRJ Sports Investments.
PFL will continue the Bellator brand. Bellator will be the PFL’s “unique” event product. The PFL will launch a reimagined Bellator product in 2024, led by the Bellator International Champions Series – which consists of eight fight events per year held in major cities around the world. Each Bellator event will feature two compelling co-main bouts competing for championship belts.
Bellator becomes one of five live fighting franchises in the Professional Fighters League: PFL League Season, PFL PPV Super Fights, PFL Challenger Series, PFL International Leagues and Bellator.
Overall, the company can now meet fan and media demand by producing and programming a year-round live fighting content calendar featuring 30 premium MMA events per year.
The PFL will also hold a mega event in 2024 – PFL Champions vs. Bellator Champions.
Details of Bellator’s events, distribution, partnerships and management will be announced at a later date.
Donn Davis, president and founder of PFL, and Peter Murray, CEO of PFL, continue to lead and operate the combined company. “The PFL is now a global powerhouse in MMA,” said Davis. “Our acquisition of Bellator turbocharges the PFL’s mission to innovate the sport and become an industry co-leader.”
“The combined roster of PFL and Bellator fighters is unmatched in MMA,” Murray added. “We can’t wait to bring MMA fans what they’ve been asking for – best vs. best in the PFL Champions vs Bellator Champions Mega-Event.”
MMA, with 650 million global fans, has the third largest fan base of all sports worldwide and its annual revenue of US$1.75 billion is expected to grow 10% annually to US$4 billion by 2032 .
More to come…