The UFC, at this second, is without doubt one of the prime organizations in MMA. Bellator is a detailed competitor, as is ONE. The panorama of MMA could also be totally different in just a few years, nevertheless, with the Skilled Fighters League (PFL) increasing globally on the backs of huge names — Jake Paul, Francis Ngannou, Claressa Shields and Amanda Serrano, amongst others — and distinctive season-long format.
On the finish of August, PFL introduced a brand new partnership with Saudi Arabia’s Public Funding Fund, bringing an inflow of money, and with it, elevated publicity in a extremely aggressive market. The Public Funding Fund has beforehand invested in golf with LIV, Newcastle United, Method 1, and the Saudi Professional League.
What precisely is the PFL’s relationship with Saudi Arabia’s PIF? And extra importantly, what does it imply for the game transferring ahead? Here is what we all know thus far.
What’s SRJ Sports activities Investments?
The corporate title you are prone to hear extra usually is SRJ Sports activities Investments. Launched in early August 2023, SRJ Sports activities Investments was shaped through Saudi Arabia’s Public Funding Fund. The multibillion-dollar group’s aim is to speed up development of Saudi Arabia and MENA, per Entrance Workplace Sports activities.
In late August, SRJ Sports activities Investments acquired a minority stake in PFL for a reported $100 million in keeping with stories by Sportico and the Monetary Instances. Per a report from ESPN, the deal “could possibly be price considerably extra.”
“PFL’s mission is to develop into the worldwide co-leader in MMA with our fighter-first mission and disruptive sport-season format,” PFL Founder and Chairman Donn Davis acknowledged in a launch. “This funding by SRJ continues the monumental development that PFL has skilled all through the world, and there’s no higher accomplice in world sports activities than SRJ.”
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PFL enlargement and worldwide leagues
The PIF’s foray into PFL comes at a time when the group is trying to aggressively develop.
As an investor, a part of the deal consists of the launch of PFL MENA in 2024. Together with enlargement, the PFL and SRJ labored out a deal the place Saudi Arabia would host fights inside the PPV-produced PFL Tremendous Fights division.
The PFL is already increasing its affect outdoors the U.S., the place it has produced its match format since 2018, with winners of varied divisions claiming $1 million in prize cash. It has already launched PFL Europe, and after signing former UFC heavyweight champion Francis Ngannou, there are plans afoot for PFL Africa.
Per a launch from Sports activities Professional Media, SRJ Sports activities Investments will “concentrate on buying and creating new sports activities occasions mental property (IP), business rights of sports activities competitions and internet hosting main world occasions in Saudi Arabia.”
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“Right now marks a brand new milestone for SRJ as we make our inaugural funding,” stated SRJ Chairman Bander Bin Mogren. “SRJ is shaping a brand new period of sports activities in Saudi Arabia and accelerating the expansion of the home sports activities economic system. This funding goals to nurture the native and regional expertise pool in martial arts, promote gender equality in sport, and produce new alternatives on to Saudi Arabia and the broader MENA area.”
The Saudi authorities has additionally labored with WWE, because the Normal Sports activities Authority has partnered with the professional wrestling large since 2018.
What’s the PFL Tremendous Struggle division?
The Tremendous Struggle division will likely be a separate weight class, the place fighters can earn at the least 50 p.c of the PFL’s pay-per-view income. Fights are distributed by PFL accomplice ESPN in addition to DAZN. Rivals will nonetheless have the ability to monetize their very own sponsorship offers.
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Fighters a part of the PFL Tremendous Struggle division embody Jake Paul, Ngannou, Claressa Shields, Kayla Harrison, Amanda Serrano, and Savannah Marshall.