This Monday, PFL finalized the purchase of Bellator. This ended months of rumors, marking the start of a new era for Bellator in the MMA industry.
PFL founder Donn Davis already confirmed the news, saying the move is aimed toward getting more talents it can use to better compete with UFC.
There are no details of how much PFL released to have the deal, but Davis said that Bellator is not just about the money. As Davis noted, Bellator wanted “to sell low,” but also “have an opportunity to make it high.”
With the acquisition, Davis clarified that Bellator will remain an individual promotion but said it will now join the PFL umbrella. According to the executive, there will still be a dedicated Bellator event, but he stressed that all Bellator fighters are now under PFL. Davis shared with The MMA Hour the details of how PFl will manage the Bellator fighters:
Fans really want to see (certain fights), but in the season it may never happen because we don’t make the fights at PFL. The fighters make the fights. The Bellator brand in the PFL portfolio will stand as a one-off event product.
We will have eight events a year. We call it the Bellator International Series. These are one-off event products from the PFL platform. So whether you’re a PFL fighter or Bellator fighter, you’re all now PFL fighters. You’re all in the pool.
To take one of our own fighters, ‘Showtime’ Pettis (for example): That season product wasn’t great for him. He’s probably better fighting twice a year on the one-off events, just to take one of our own. Fans love him, and he can get ready for that. A season is too hard at this stage in his career. The season is the toughest test in MMA, so he’ll probably be great for that (Bellator) product.
We’ll talk to managers and fighters and say, ‘What’s the best product for you? What’s the best product for the fans? They’ll either fight twice a year on the Bellator International Series, or you’ll fight in the PFL league season. Your choice.’ The Bellator belts will still be at risk. The champions remain. PFL season is exactly what it was. Those products will both run during the year. We’ll have two big signature products.
While PFL has renewed its deal with ESPN, Davis shared that Bellator might have a different broadcast partner. The founder recalled how Bellator used to shift from one to another but said that under PFL, Bellator will get “a consistent U.S. home and consistent international homes.”
As for the fighters, Davis assured that fighters will still have their contracts and that it will be retaining employees at Bellator. Yet, although he promised that “every fighter will start the season,” Davis didn’t deny that PFL will upgrade the rosters. By that, it means the number of fighters could be reduced in the future, depending on how the fans and audience will react to their performance.
Nonetheless, Davis already expressed interest in certain fighters that PFL would invest in. That includes Scott Coker and Mike Kogan, who PFL hopes will stay. Davis also promised a possible pay-per-view bout between Cris Cyborg and Kayla Harrison in 2024.