PFL Acquires Bellator from Paramount Global, Creating a New MMA Behemoth
The deal follow's Paramounts closing of Showtime Sports last month
Professional Fighters League (PFL) has acquired Bellator from Paramount Global, instantly creating a new heavyweight MMA organization that rivals UFC. PFL will continue the Bellator brand, and Bellator will be the “one-off” event product from PFL. PFL, which received a substantial investment from Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund earlier this year, will launch what it calls a “reimagined” Bellator product in 2024. Dubbed the “Bellator International Champions Series”, it will consist of eight fight events per year hosted major cities and featuring two co-main fights competing for championship belts.
No financial terms of the agreement were released, but Sportico reports that PFL acquired the promoter for less than $100 million.
Paramount is selling its stake in Bellator on the heels of announcing that it would shut down Showtime Sports and shift all sports programming under the CBS Sports umbrella at the end of 2023. Paramount has also decided to halt live boxing matches as part of the announcement.
Bellator becomes one of five live fight franchises of the Professional Fighters League: PFL League Season, PFL PPV Super Fights, PFL Challenger Series, PFL International Leagues, and Bellator. With all newly acquired Bellator fighters now part of the PFL platform and available to compete in PFL fight franchises, the promoter plans to produce a a year-round calendar of live fight content with 30 premium MMA events per year. Details of Bellator events, distribution, partnerships, and management will be announced at a later date.
“PFL is now a global powerhouse in MMA,” says Donn Davis, PFL Founder and Chairman. “Our Bellator acquisition turbocharges PFL’s mission to innovate the sport and become the industry co-leader.”
“The combined PFL and Bellator fighter rosters are second to none in MMA,” says 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.”
MMA with 650 million global fans is the third largest fan-base of all sports worldwide. MMA is the sports growth business of this decade with its current $1.75 billion industry revenue projected to grow 10% annually to $4 billion by 2032.
Bellator has served fighters and fans worldwide for more than a decade, staging an astounding 301 major MMA fight events. Bellator has successfully identified and developed dozens of acclaimed MMA world champions. Bellator’s current fighter roster has 46 fighters world-ranked in the top 25 of their weight-class per independent source Fight Matrix Rankings.
PFL is the only organization in MMA with the sports-season format, where individual fighters compete in a regular season, playoffs, and championship each year. The combined roster of PFL and Bellator boasts 30% of its fighters independently world-ranked in the top 25 of their respective weight-class, the same percentage as UFC. PFL has an expansive global vision for the sport and is building the “Champions League of MMA” with PFL Europe, PFL MENA, and more international leagues in development. PFL leads in technology and innovation, with its proprietary PFL SmartCage, powering fight analytics, real-time betting, AI scoring, and a next-generation viewing experience. PFL is primetime on ESPN/ESPN+ in the U.S. and is broadcast and streamed in 150 countries with 20 premium media distribution partners.
PFL has acquired an immense number of top fighters through the Bellator acquisition, and its combined fighter roster is now equal in stature to UFC. PFL and UFC both showcase rosters that are 30% comprised of fighters who are top 25 independently world-ranked in their weight-classes. In addition, PFL + Bellator now has the best roster of women’s fighters in the world. All
PFL as a fighter-first and fan-focused organization plans to stage a landmark mega-event in 2024 – PFL Champions vs. Bellator Champions. The PFL Champions vs. Bellator Champions mega-event will feature the champions of each promotion in all seven weight-classes in a head-to-head epic fight experience.
Citi and LionTree served as financial advisors to PFL and Sidley Austin LLP served as legal counsel to PFL.