Saudi PIF invests $100M in PFL MMA: Why the UFC should be worried and how it changes the sport

The Saudi Arabia Public Investment Fund’s decision to jump into the cage-fighting game by investing nine figures into PFL MMA and purchasing a stake in the league is a moment that could have massive ramifications on the mixed martial arts industry for many years to come.

On Wednesday it was officially announced that SRJ Sports Investments had acquired a minority stake in PFL MMA. The firm was just created earlier this month and confirms what was reported last week, that the Saudi PIF indeed wants to throw some of its absurd wealth into investment in the sport of MMA.

A major part of the deal is for PFL MMA to branch off and form a new regional league in the Middle East dubbed PFL MENA. Furthermore, the league’s planned Super Fight League pay-per-view events will also take place in Saudi Arabia. However, there are huge financial benefits in the partnership for the league beyond just Middle Eastern expansion.

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The deal is expected to deliver an influx of $100 million and reportedly “could be worth substantially more” as the pact plays out in the coming years. The fund manages over $800 billion from the wildly rich Saudi government and has been used as a tool to invest in sports teams and leagues to help change the negative perception folks in Western nations have about a kingdom with an ugly human rights history.

It offers PFL MMA a limitless bank account if the pact bears fruit sooner than later and could be an absolute game changer for the sport. Let’s look at three major ways this deal will affect the industry.

PFL MMA is going nowhere and is the new No. 2 company in MMA

pfl mma, ufc

If there were any doubts about the staying power of PFL, that can now be put to rest. Furthermore, the investment and new relationship with the PIF puts the league on a secure financial footing in ways that a rival promotion like Bellator isn’t.

The Viacom-owned MMA organization has reportedly been up for sale since last year and that unsure future severely damages its place as the No. 2 fight promotion in cage-fighting. With PFL already having a solid roster, a good broadcast partnership with ESPN, and this new massive influx of money, it pushes the league into a place where it can now be viewed as the new No. 2 cage fighting league in the world behind the UFC.

A Bellator purchase could be coming soon

pfl mma, ufc

Speaking of Bellator’s potential sale, PFL MMA was already revealed as a potential buyer last month, and the league’s president also admitted to Sportsnaut in August of talks between the rival promotions and the hope that a deal could get done.

The biggest knock on PFL MMA during its five seasons has been its roster compared to Bellator, UFC, and even ONE Championship. However, if the two rosters were to be merged, there is no doubt it would create the second-best in the industry and further interest in the league by bolstering cards for its already unique league format. Plus, it creates an even stronger alternative to the already dominant MMA world leader the UFC.

Expect PFL to steal stars from the UFC … eventually

pfl mma, ufc

One of the most fascinating elements of this unexpected partnership is the ability for PFL MMA to sign away some of the UFC’s top talent. While this may not happen anytime soon, over the next year there will likely be some huge bidding wars for certain Octagon stars that see the value in big fight checks over just competing under the UFC brand.

With the help of the Saudi PIF, PFL would be able to offer fighters like Sean O’Malley, Paddy Pimblett, of Ciryl Gane never seen before deals for millions per fight. It will either force the UFC to increase fighter pay to hold on to key elements of their roster or be outbid for athletes. Which has never happened to the company before. That sort of situation is a win for fighters and fans who would prefer more options in their MMA content.

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