The Professional Fighters League has completed its long-rumored acquisition of Bellator from Paramount Global as it looks to challenge UFC.
No financial terms of the agreement were released. A price tag of $500 million had been floated as a potential valuation for Bellator, but PFL acquired the promoter for less than $100 million, according to someone familiar with the transaction who was not authorized to speak publicly.
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“PFL is now a global powerhouse in MMA,” Donn Davis, PFL founder and chairman, said in a statement. “Our Bellator acquisition turbocharges PFL’s mission to innovate the sport and become the industry co-leader.”
In August, PFL sold a minority interest in the MMA league to SRJ Sports Investments, the sports-focused fund launched by Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund that same month. SRJ invested more than $100 million in its first transaction with the investment set to support the launch of two new projects next year: a PFL league for the Middle East/North Africa (MENA) region and the company’s “Super Fight” pay-per-view arm. The funds will also be used to attract more stars to PFL, as well as increase participation in the disciplines of MMA across Saudi Arabia and the MENA region. Saudi Arabia will also host and underwrite a “substantial” number of PFL PPV events in the coming years.
Last month, Saudi Arabia played host to a boxing match between heavyweight champion Tyson Fury and mixed martial artist Francis Ngannou, who signed with PFL in May but was competing in his first pro boxing match.
Paramount predecessor Viacom acquired a controlling stake in Bellator in 2011 for roughly $50 million. The Bellator sale marks Paramount’s continued exit from combat sports. Last month, it announced that it would shut down Showtime Sports and stop televising boxing matches. Bellator 301 was broadcast on Friday and marked the promotion’s final event on Showtime and under Paramount ownership.
PFL will continue the Bellator brand with a reimagined product in 2024. The Bellator International Champions Series will consist of eight events each year with a pair of co-main fights competing for championship belts. The champions of each promotion in all seven weight-classes will also face off in a head-to-head fight event. Bellator will continue with its own set of fight rules, including elbow strikes, which are not allowed in the PFL.
Citi and LionTree served as financial advisors to PFL, and Sidley Austin LLP served as legal counsel to PFL.
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