PFL, Bellator merger: Professional Fighters League acquires Bellator MMA to ‘change MMA landscape’
Bellator MMA is under new ownership. PFL announced on Monday that it had purchased the promotion from Paramount in order to create a stronger competitor to the UFC. The promotion was sold and Paramount acquired a minority stake in the newly formed company.
Bellator 301 went down last Friday, marking the promotion’s final event on Showtime and owned by Paramount Global. There have been rumors for months that the promotion was up 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 Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund.
“This completely changes the landscape of MMA overnight,” Davis said in a statement to the Financial Times. “You’re basically putting two number two companies to create a joint leader. 30 percent of the load is – their fight is now on the PFL list, Bellator together are ranked in the top 25 in the world by Fight Matrix.”
Viacom purchased Bellator in 2011 and broadcast events across various networks, including MTV2, Spike/Paramount Network, CBS Sports Network and Showtime. At one point during that stretch, Bellator events were also broadcast on DAZN.
Davis said Bellator will continue to run as a separate promotion from the PFL at this time with its own set of fight rules, including elbow strikes, which has been confirmed according to appearance with women’s featherweight champion Cris Cyborg at Saturday’s event. The promotions, however, divide his records 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 big names with social media star Jake Paul and the sport’s top heavyweight, Francis Ngannou.