Donn Davis, chairman of the Saudi-backed PFL, announced Monday that his company has officially acquired Bellator MMA.
However, the terms were not disclosed. MMA Fighting reported that PFL shares were included in the deal, so Paramount, Bellator’s former rights holder, will have a minority stake. A champion against champion “Mega event” between the two promotions is currently in progress.
The deal gained additional momentum in October when Showtime announced that its sports division would be shutting down at the end of 2023. This meant that both boxing and MMA had to find new broadcast locations as Paramount looked to outsource.
Bellator, which launched in 2008 and was acquired by Viacom in 2011, knew its future depended on finding another franchise with solidified TV rights. Now that the two entities have merged into one, it becomes the undisputed second-largest MMA organization behind the UFC.
“The basis of all sports is the quality of the competitors” Davis told ESPN. “With this acquisition, this combined roster is now on par with the UFC in terms of top 25 talent. The quality of the product, the depth of the product – that’s what makes the PFL a global powerhouse overnight. That’s just not possible every day.” Sport. This was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”
On LinkedinDavis provided additional details about the transaction.
At PFL, Bellator will operate under a “reimagined” system called the Bellator International Champions Series. This allows the franchise to act as its own advertising. There will be eight events per year, with each card featuring two title fights.
For contracted Bellator fighters, they are available to participate in the PFL – including the season-long tournaments and the “Superfight” pay-per-view series starting in 2024.
Bellator President Scott Coker has not yet commented on the acquisition. Davis reportedly offered Coker “and his team at Bellator” positions within the new structure, according to ESPN.
Last weekend, Bellator held its final pre-sale event in Chicago. The announcement of the acquisitions came ahead of Friday’s 2023 PFL Championship final in Washington, DC
The PFL is looking forward to a big 2024. It is already broadcast on ESPN in the US and in January it announced its new partnership with Jake Paul to broadcast his first MMA fight.
“The combined fighter lineups of PFL and Bellator are unmatched in MMA,” PFL CEO Peter Murray said in the statement. “We can’t wait to give MMA fans what they’ve been asking for – Best vs. Best with the PFL Champions vs. Bellator Champions mega-event.”