PFL MMA officially acquires Bellator: 8 dream fights to make including Francis Ngannou vs. Ryan Bader

After rumors swirled around the industry for months, PFL MMA has officially announced its acquisition of rival organization Bellator.

Earlier this year, the rumblings began that Bellator’s parent company, Viacom, had put the long-running MMA promotion on the block as part of a complete overhaul of how they approach sports content. Following the news it was revealed that the Professional Fighters League was one of the parties interested in a potential sale.

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Months passed and no fresh news came about whether the company was still up for sale, but in the Fall when it was announced that Showtime Sports would be shuttered at the end of the year, it seemed the writing was officially on the wall for the Scott Coker-run organization as we currently know it. The fact that Bellator also had no events planned after this weekend’s Bellator 301 was another clear sign a sale was on the horizon.

Well, on Monday morning the rumor was made a reality when PFL MMA announced they had officially purchased Bellator and its impressive roster of fighters and footage. The merger now makes the Professional Fighters League the undisputed No. 2 in the industry behind the MMA world leader the UFC.

One of the major weaknesses for PFL has long been its roster and lack of depth in many of the sports divisions, including middleweight and bantamweight. Now, the influx of Bellator talent will bolster a product that has strong marketing and a broadcast deal with ESPN+.

With the purchase in the books, many fans will now ponder which crossover fights they have long wanted will now happen inside the PFL MMA smart cage. Let’s look at eight awesome fights the league should book in 2024.

8 fights that must happen following PFL MMA and Bellator merger

pfl mma, bellator

Francis Ngannou vs. Ryan Bader

It is unclear when Francis Ngannou will make his PFL MMA debut, however, finding an opponent will be less of a problem after the merger. Former UFC star Ryan Bader has been a dominant force at heavyweight after previously being Bellator’s light heavyweight champion.

While he is much smaller than “The Predator,” his elite wrestling and light heavyweight speed would be a legitimate problem for the one-time UFC champ and this is a perfect bout to headline a future PFL Super Fights card.

Also Read: Conor McGregor next fight – When is “Notorious” expected to return to the Octagon?

Cris Cyborg vs. Kayla Harrison

Bellator featherweight queen Cris “Cyborg” Justino versus two-time PFL champion Kayla Harrison is a bout fans have clamored for over the last few years and one that almost happened last year when Harrison flirted with Bellator in free agency. Now, arguably, the two best female fighters outside the UFC can go toe-to-toe to claim they are the baddest woman not competing inside the Octagon.

Shane Burgos vs. AJ McKee

pfl mma, bellator

While Shane Burgos’ first season in the PFL did not work out as he had hoped, he still is one of the league’s top names. He is an action fighter and one of the most entertaining talents on the roster. Pairing him up with Bellator pound-for-pound talent AJ McKee at featherweight or lightweight would be a fascinating clash of styles that offers another huge test for McKee and could easily be a co-main event at a Super Fights event.

Olivier Aubin-Mercier vs. Usman Nurmagomedov

Since joining the league, UFC veteran Olivier Aubin-Mercier has been impressive and is in the lightweight championship for the second straight year. It could be argued he is the promotion’s best 155er whether he wins or loses in his next bout. That is why a matchup with Bellator’s best at 155 pounds, Usman Nurmagomedov, is a dream fight that offers both competitors major tests as they enter the prime of their careers.

Sadibou Sy vs. Jason Jackson

PFL veteran Sadibou Sy will be in the welterweight championship for the second straight season on Nov. 24 and has taken on a role as one of the league’s elite strikers. That is why a booking against new Bellator champion Jason Jackson would be a stellar matchup inside the Smartcage.

Sy would be another high-level challenge for the new champion as he continues to prove he is one of the sport’s best, and Sy gets to display that he is truly elite by beating Bellator’s best at 170 pounds.

Yoel Romero vs. Jake Paul

pfl mma, bellator

Sooner or later, combat sports disruptor Jake Paul will make his MMA debut. Picking his opponent will be difficult because pitting him against a lesser-known fighter doesn’t benefit him or the league. But the league doesn’t want to put him in the cage against someone he would be at a major disadvantage against. That is why former UFC and Bellator title contender Yoel Romero would be an interesting way to go.

The Cuban has the wrestling pedigree where he could take Paul down and pummel him, but if you have followed Romero’s career he has rarely used his wrestling to win fights. The bout devolving into a wild war on the feet as the boxer tries to avoid the unpredictable and powerful strikes of his foe would be a highly entertaining affair for however long it lasts.

Related: Jake Paul next fight – Get all the details on Paul’s return in December

Yaroslav Amosav vs. Magomed Magomedkerimov

Yarolslav Amosav and Magomed Magomedkerimov are two of the best grapplers and welterweights outside the UFC. They are both former champions and a matchup to see who is the better grappler would be a fascinating matchup between a pair of very underappreciated competitors not in the UFC.

Clay Collard vs. Patricky Pitbull

pfl mma, bellator

Clay Collard and Patricky “Pitbull” Freire are two of the most entertaining scrappers in PFL MMA and Bellator. On a card that needs a guaranteed banger of a fight, Collard and “Pitbull” are likely to deliver one of the league’s best ever as they try to impose their styles on one another in what would be a serious firefight.

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