The Professional Fighters League (PFL) has successfully acquired Bellator from Paramount Global, solidifying its position as a global MMA powerhouse and rivalling the industry leader, UFC. This acquisition brings a wealth of top fighters to PFL, making its combined roster comparable to UFC. Notably, 30% of both PFL and UFC rosters consist of fighters ranked in the top 25 globally in their respective weight classes. The addition of Bellator fighters enhances PFL‘s platform, allowing them to participate in PFL fight franchises.
PFL will maintain the Bellator brand, presenting it as a unique event under the “Bellator International Champions Series,” set to debut in 2024. This series will feature eight fight events annually in major cities worldwide, with two co-main fights vying for championship belts at each Bellator event. Bellator joins the ranks of live fight franchises under PFL, contributing to a comprehensive calendar of 30 premium MMA events each year.
The future holds a groundbreaking mega-event in 2024 – PFL Champions vs. Bellator Champions. This spectacular event will showcase champions from both promotions across all seven weight classes in thrilling head-to-head matchups. Further details regarding Bellator events, distribution, partnerships, and management will be disclosed at a later date.
Donn Davis, PFL Chairman and Founder, along with Peter Murray, PFL CEO, will continue to lead and operate the combined entity. This strategic move positions PFL as a dominant force in global MMA, aligning with its mission to innovate and co-lead the industry.
“The combined PFL and Bellator fighter rosters are second to none in MMA,” said Peter Murray, PFL CEO. “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.”
With MMA boasting 650 million global fans and being the third-largest fan base globally, this acquisition positions PFL to tap into the sport’s significant growth. MMA’s current $1.75 billion industry revenue is projected to grow 10% annually, reaching $4 billion by 2032. Bellator, having organized 301 major MMA events over a decade, has played a pivotal role in identifying and nurturing numerous MMA world champions. PFL, known for its sports-season format, aims to create the “Champions League of MMA” with global expansions, including PFL Europe and PFL MENA.
This strategic acquisition is backed by cutting-edge technology, including PFL‘s proprietary SmartCage, and widespread broadcasting on ESPN/ESPN+ in the U.S., reaching 150 countries through 20 premium media distribution partners. Citi and LionTree served as financial advisors to PFL, with Sidley Austin LLP providing legal counsel.