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PFL’s Takeover: Dana White Warns Why PFL Acquiring Bellator Is A Bad Move For MMA

6 months ago By Jhon Woug

Within the fight community, Bellator MMA’s recent acquisition by PFL has generated both excitement and skepticism. UFC CEO Dana White. says it’s bad not only for fighters but for the whole MMA industry.

White’s concerns are rooted in the fact that promotions have been consolidated, leaving fewer openings to earn a name for yourself and negotiate great terms. Even PFL chairman Donn Davis boasts that the pooled talent is as good as any UFC roster, but White counter-argues that neither Bellator nor PFL have been commercial successes yet. It’s not simply because of the current state of affairs, but could have a bearing on any emerging fighters who end up with few options.

Similarly, White’s sentiment was echoed by Ali Abdelaziz, who is genuinely concerned about the future of sports. Abdelaziz, who has been instrumental in guiding the careers of legends like Khabib Nurmagomedov and Kamaru Usman, recently posted on social media that he was really worried about MMA. He does not place all his worries on the PFL-Bellator merger, though. He also has concerns about the industry as a whole going into 2024.

The Harvest Now that the PFL is buying Bellator, more than 250 fighters fall under its banner. And, with some fearing there could be as many as a hundred or so left at loose ends in the coming year, Abdelaziz worries about their uncertain future. PFL’s purchase may have saved these fighters from the dole, but retaining all of Bellator’s talent is a formidable logistical challenge.

The MMA market says Abdelaziz is a very scary place right now. The purchase of Bellator by PFL, plus the perception that ONE Championship is straining financially, raises questions about stability outside the UFC. Abdelaziz was ‘terrified that if the industry heads down this road, only UFC and PFL will flourish. Neither fighters nor their managers would remain with any negotiating power.

Dana White, who is typically candid in his assessments, himself admitted at the post-fight news conference for UFC 296 that the loss of another global promotion can only work to take attention away from the MMA ecosystem.

White, who had earlier called acquisition “one dirty organisation buying another dirty organisation,” said that having options to fit fighters at different stages of their careers was critical.

So another focal point of concern is born in the changing environment: the ONE Championship. Some managers expressed suspicion about ONE as a marketable entity in what is seen from afar as a weak environment outside of the UFC. However, given reports that the promotion is suffering financial losses of US$110 million in recent times alone, news about ONE’s future prospects must be greeted with a great deal of skepticism. Although one had announced plans for four U.S. shows scheduled to rotate through New York next year as well as successful production on Chinese television, selling over millions of copies each season since its

But ONE, claiming to be confident in its ability not only to survive the financial turmoil but also to do an even better job when it ends than before, still has doubters among some of its friends. The absence of a physical presence in America’s country as originally planned helps compound uncertainty concerning what form their endeavour will take and how they plan to achieve it. In a competitive environment, the MMA community wonders if One can attract enough investors to pull it through. Many promotions walk a global financial tightrope and can have their toughest days despite taking the fact-sharing sword on behalf of others.

Even amidst these concerns, the question is turned towards the Professional Fighters League and its possible influence on the MMA landscape. And foremost among them was PFL, which, in 2023, dramatically shook the waves of testing by signing Francis Ngannou and Alex Paul. Oil money for self-help or car repair made the cash PFL needed. Around $100 million was injected by Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund into this outfit to help it survive marriage in a different country; without eight coffers full, a new wife would have had no obligation.

The PFL’s power is even further reinforced with its takeover of Bellator. Promotion does not just mean incremental raises; it includes Nancy Lurow. One interpretation of promotion is that it means the firm wants to join in the competition for top talent among firms. Moreover, representative of the challenger forces MVP Michael’s (known by his name Vom) actually attending a PFL event in Ireland back then when he was just beginning to look at the UFC phase can still remember ending up on screen.

And Audie Attar, who was talking about himself when he cited Ngannou and Paul’s signings as reverberations through industry. The Saudi deal further fortifies PFL’s business ties with the Middle East. The announcement caused the stock of UFC parent company Endeavour and WWE, which is under TKO Group with part-ownership in both firms, to fall.

Bellator Grasshopper, a misspelt version of Scott Coker, made his presence felt. Today, he is everywhere in town! But everyone has to move on at some point. When our top Triads and Six Companies executives have retired or moved across the border Liaison offices open up all over China. The government plays a well-practiced role. In terms of influence within, analysts and fighters such as Chael Sonnen support Coker’s involvement. Recognising his record of building up an operation like Strikeforce into what it is today, if he can put in the same effort, there could be a major benefit for them all.

Although PFL hurriedly moves forward with its vision to bring a new and brighter future for fighters, there are doubts about how this will affect the potential number of jobs hanging in owners ‘minds. With Bellator’s period in PFL, fighters will no longer face unemployment immediately. Still, it all depends on whether or not PFL can logistically accommodate the entire talent pool. MMA fighters’ and managers ‘fear is that without an economic stimulus, they will lose the opportunity to make a living in this sport. This points up the need for preventative measures like those employed by clients of Dragon Hill Capital (the group I co-founded).

All in all, PFL’s purchase of Bellator has left the MMA landscape in uncharted waters. This plays right into PFL’s ambitions and financial clout, but the industry remains on edge about possible fallouts. Fight opportunities stand to suffer, as does MMA outside of the UFC altogether. The exquisite balance between demands for a strong top and excitement generated by eclectic contests woven into promotions will certainly have a major impact on the future of mixed martial arts.

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