PFL officially acquires Bellator, announces champs vs. champs series in 2024

Bellator needed a broadcast partner, and PFL had money to spend. The sale makes the combined entity the No. 2 promotion in MMA. (ASSOCIATED PRESS)

Rob Wilkinson achieved victory against Delan Monte in their recent mixed martial arts showdown at the PFL Playoffs. The match took place on Friday, August 5, 2022, in New York, with Wilkinson securing a first-round TKO. The event was immortalized in the captivating image captured by AP photographer, Gregory Payan.

The chairman of Saudi-financed organization, PFL, Donn Davis, shared groundbreaking news on Monday – the official acquisition of Bellator MMA by PFL. The terms remain confidential, but indications suggest PFL’s stock was incorporated into the deal, with Paramount, Bellator’s previous rights owner, receiving minority ownership.

The fusion between Bellator and PFL is on the verge of creating an extraordinarily promising “mega event” as the two promotions unite. This groundbreaking development was further propelled when Showtime announced the closure of its sports division by the end of 2023, leaving boxing and MMA in need of new broadcast homes.

Having been acquired by Viacom in 2011, Bellator’s future hinged on securing solidified TV rights, eventually leading to their harmonious partnership with PFL. This game-changing alliance propels the entities to the top two positions in the MMA hierarchy.

“The basis of all sports is the quality of competitors,” Davis told ESPN. “With this acquisition, this combined roster is now equal to the UFC in terms of Top 25-ranked talent. The quality of the product, the depth of the product — this makes the PFL a global powerhouse overnight. That’s just not possible in everyday sports. This was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”

Davis further divulged that Bellator would operate under the “reimagined” Bellator International Champions Series at PFL. This overhaul allows future events to take on a well-defined structure, offering fans eight events annually, each featuring two title fights.

Compelling changes are also in store, as Bellator fighters will be permitted to compete in the PFL’s season-long tournaments and the “superfight” series set for a 2024 pay-per-view debut.

With the acquisition ongoing, PFL is looking forward to an eventful 2024, especially following a recent partnership with Jake Paul to broadcast his first MMA fight.

“The combined PFL and Bellator fighter rosters are second to none in MMA,” PFL CEO Peter Murray said in the statement. “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.”

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