Professional Fighters League CEO Donn Davis believes that after some major recent moves by his league, UFC boss Dana White has reasons to be worried for the first time in a very long time.
Since the league’s introduction in 2018, PFL MMA has slowly but surely created a niche in the fight game by offering an alternative league format to the sport. In just a few years they have gone from a fledgling fight organization to a product that can be seen on ESPN’s airwaves and has expanded its brand internationally.
However, over the last few months, a pair of major moves have placed PFL MMA into a unique position as legitimate competition to the MMA world leader. First came the shocking reveal in August that a company owned by the uber-wealthy Saudi Arabian Public Investment Fund purchased a minority stake in the league and would invest over $100 million in the product in the next year.
That was followed by the long-rumored completion of a massive deal on Monday that would see the Professional Fighters League merged with rival organization Bellator. Now, with a far better roster due to the influx of Bellator fighters, the PFL is without a doubt the most serious competition the UFC has had since Strikeforce over a decade ago and Pride FC in the 1990s.
PFL MMA CEO explains how their revamped roster is reason for Dana White to be ‘worried’
That shift in the industry that has been developing over the last year is why PFL CEO Donn Davis believes his league is finally on the radar of Dana White, and the UFC President is very worried about the threat of a competitor that now will have an even stronger roster and Saudi backing.
“Everybody knows Dana well enough that he only dismisses things that worry him, or else he just doesn’t comment,” Davis said during a Tuesday appearance on The MMA Hour. “He didn’t comment on the PFL for four years because he wasn’t worried. He has commented on the PFL a lot in the last six months. He’s worried.”
The league believes that following the merger, PFL now has 30 percent of the fighters in the world ranked in the top 25 by industry outlets. That is a unique trait that the UFC only had for decades, and Davis feels that is part of what is worrying Dana White and makes his league a serious competitor to the UFC.
“What specifically worried him about Bellator is the metrics that we put on the press release,” Davis said. “Thirty percent of [Bellator’s roster] is ranked in the top 25 of Fight Matrix rankings. This is not ‘Dana gets to rank his own guys. Donn is ranking his own guys.’ As you know, there’s only one group ranking all fighters independently — Fight Matrix. Thirty percent of the UFC roster is top 25 ranked, and now our combined company of PFL and Bellator is 30 percent. The same.”
PFL MMA will have its 2023 league championship on Friday, Nov. 24 in Washington D.C.