Update Post: November 28, 2023 10:27 pm
Rumors have been circulating for some time about the acquisition of Bellator by the PFL owners. There have been many conflicting ideas about the future of Bellator, what will happen to the fighters, the nuances of a possible deal and much more.
Now the deal is finally closed. The PFL League has acquired the rights to Bellator, as already announced in an official press release. PFL co-founder Donn Davis is very excited: “This completely changes the landscape of MMA. Two number 2s in the industry come together to become number 2. On our joint list, 30% of the fighters are among the top 25 in the world rankings according to Fight Matrix, the same as on the UFC list.”
Bellator’s press office was a little less enthusiastic: “We have joined the PFL family.”
So let’s get into the details of how these two promotions will work now. We don’t know the financial details, but there are some technical details.
How the MMA industry could change after the merger of the two leagues
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First of all, the official name of the last league in Fedor Emelianenko’s career is now the Bellator International Champions Series. In fact, the promotion will simply change a bit and become one of the PFL divisions, of which there are only five:
The PFL regular season.PFL PPV Super Fight is the same elite division where fighters will receive 50% of the PPV revenue. This is where Francis Ngannou and Jake Paul will perform. PFL Challenger Series: qualifying tournaments for the league. PFL International Leagues: the same branches of PFL Europe, PFL Africa, etc. Bellator.
According to a PFL press release, a total of 30 tournaments will be held throughout the year across all of these divisions. Bellator will have eight events per year, each featuring two title fights. Additionally, all Bellator fighters who have a valid contract with the organization will be able to compete in PFL tournaments without any problems, which was the expected result. Of course, this also works in the opposite direction.
What is PFL Super Fight and how it will work:
PFL Super Fight: a revolution in the world of MMA? He signed Jake Paul and is ahead of the UFC
Well, the main thing that the PFL management focuses on is crossover tournaments in the “PFL champion versus Bellator champion” format. This is the general idea of joining promotions. The possible dates for holding said tournament are not specified, but it is noted that they would like to do it at the beginning of next year. The only exception is Bellator’s bantamweight and middleweight divisions, because those divisions simply don’t exist in the PFL. So Patrick Meeks and Johnny Ablin are out of the championship picture, but both can return to compete in other divisions of the PFL.
Bellator executives, including Scott Coker, have been asked to remain in their positions, and most likely will do so. Overall management will be provided by PFL Directors Donn Davis and Pete Murray. There is also no information yet on whether fighters can terminate their contracts with the organization and move to the conditional UFC. For example, Vadim Nemkov, one of Bellator’s top stars, has a contract for one more year.
This season, PFL broadcasts are available on OKKO.
Overall, the PFL’s actions are extremely logical. Of course, Bellator has ongoing commitments to its fighters. They cannot force everyone to switch to the PFL en masse, and in case of termination of the contract, this threatens the payment of penalties. The history of mixed martial arts already knows stories of one major promotion being absorbed by another.
The UFC’s parent company, Zuffa, purchased Strikeforce in 2011, which, by the way, was run by current Bellator president Scott Coker. He retained his position and the organization existed for almost two more years, holding its last tournament in 2013. Then, fighters’ contracts with Strikeforce expired and they signed with the UFC or left as free agents in other leagues. It is likely that after some time Bellator will suffer the same fate.
The PFL is encouraged by this step and already considers the combined roster of fighters to be the best in the world. In reality, Bellator fighters were the main reason for this agreement. Clearly, the PFL has big plans for next year, and buying another promotion should help realize them.