The Professional Fighters League has officially acquired Bellator from Paramount, in a landmark deal for the MMA industry. The deal will give the PFL access to a laundry list of top fighters, with a mega event planned for 2024. Donn Davis, founder and owner, Professional Fighters League joined TheStreet to discuss what this deal means for the company and the wider industry.
Full Video Transcript Below:
J.D. DURKIN: It was announced PFL is acquiring Bellator MMA from Paramount Global. Huge news in the world of MMA today. Why do you think this makes sense for you and the folks at PFL at this time?
DONN DAVIS: Everything is about athletes, whether it’s the NBA or MMA. And today, with PFL acquiring Bellator, we now have the same quality and depth of fighter roster as UFC. PFL plus Bellator, 30% of our roster is top 25 ranked UFC the same 30% top 25 ranked. So it’s a new day at MMA. We go from number two to poised to be co-leader. We now have the capability and the fighter roster. New competition, new day
J.D. DURKIN: Fans who would love to know to whatever degree you’re comfortable kind of pulling back the curtain a little bit. How long has this been, this deal been in the works for in terms of conversations with Viacom?
DONN DAVIS: We started in January. We reached out to them because we knew we had the vision, the format, the business infrastructure. We just needed more top fighters. And Bellator was the place we get all in one fell swoop. We’ve been winning 4 or 5 free agents a year. We get 45 in one fell swoop on top 25 with this acquisition. As Shakespeare says, all’s well that ends well. But it did take all year
J.D. DURKIN: You teased a mega event for fans in 2024, PFL champs versus Bellator champs. I’m sure there’s a lot of details about this, Donn, that you know, that you can’t yet talk about. But what can you give fans a sense of? Because that’s something that really stood out in the announcement?
DONN DAVIS: Well, the main thing I would say is most MMA companies don’t do things like this. We are fan first, fire first. It’s what fans want and what the fighters want. Whether the Bellator fighters go seven and zero or go seven and zero, we all win. Because if you give fighters what they want and fans what they want, the company will win. So we’re going to do it sometime in February or March. Location, TBD. It will be the biggest fight event of 2024. Bellator champs, PFL champs. Let’s see what each of them have. I can’t wait to see it as a fan.
J.D. DURKIN: How are you approaching things like TV deals, event schedules, figuring out all the logistics, those things that will make fans really excited to find out as soon as they’re announced. Again, I’m sure you know a lot more than you could say, but how do you even begin to approach after an announcement like this, the enormity of answering those questions?
DONN DAVIS: Now, the one thing we did say is we want to relaunch a revitalized Bellator product. We want to give a little bit more order and more sense to it. Fans have liked that with the PFL season. But what Bellator becomes and the PFL platform is our one-off event product where we can match up fighters. We’re calling it the Bellator international champions series. Eight one off events in great cities around the world.