Tuesday, December 5, 2023
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PFL, Bellator merger: Professional Fighters League acquires Bellator MMA to ‘change the MMA landscape’

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Bellator MMA is under new ownership. PFL announced on Monday that it had purchased the promotion from Paramount to create a stronger competitor to the UFC. PFL founder Donn Davis said that Paramount would retain a minority stake in Bellator. 

Bellator 301 went down this past Friday, marking the promotion’s final event on Showtime and under Paramount Global ownership. Rumors have swirled for months that the promotion was for sale, with PFL emerging as the most likely buyer. Rumors of PFL making the move increased earlier in 2023 when the promotion received a $100 million investment from the Saudi Arabia Public Investment Fund.

“This totally changes the MMA landscape overnight,” Davis said in a statement to The Financial Times. “You essentially put two number two companies to create a co-leader. The combined PFL, Bellator roster now has 30 percent of its fighters who are ranked top 25 in the world by Fight Matrix. That’s the same as UFC has in their roster.”

Viacom purchased Bellator in 2011 and aired events across various networks, including MTV2, Spike/Paramount Network, CBS Sports Network and Showtime. At one point during that stretch, Bellator events were also streamed on DAZN.

Davis stated that Bellator will continue to run as a separate promotion from PFL for the time being with its own set of fight rules, including elbow strikes, something that was seemingly confirmed by women’s featherweight champion Cris Cyborg during Saturday’s event. The promotions will, however, share its rosters of fighters.

PFL currently airs on ESPN and streams on ESPN+, with a season format that culminates in tournaments with a $1 million prize. The promotion is also expanding into pay-per-view events and has made major signings with social media star Jake Paul and the sport’s top heavyweight, Francis Ngannou.

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