PFL & Saudi Arabia’s $100 million investment, explained: Jake Paul and Francis Ngannou PPVs, 2024 expansion & more

The UFC, at this moment, is one of the top organizations in MMA. Bellator is a close competitor, as is ONE. The landscape of MMA may be different in a few years, however, with the Professional Fighters League (PFL) expanding globally on the backs of big names — Jake Paul, Francis Ngannou, Claressa Shields and Amanda Serrano, among others — and unique season-long format.

At the end of August, PFL announced a new partnership with Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund, bringing an influx of cash, and with it, increased exposure in a highly competitive market. The Public Investment Fund has previously invested in golf with LIV, Newcastle United, Formula 1, and the Saudi Pro League.

What exactly is the PFL’s relationship with Saudi Arabia’s PIF?  And more importantly, what does it mean for the sport moving forward? Here’s what we know so far.

What is SRJ Sports Investments?

The company name you’re likely to hear more often is SRJ Sports Investments. Launched in early August 2023, SRJ Sports Investments was formed via Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund. The multibillion-dollar organization’s goal is to accelerate growth of Saudi Arabia and MENA, per Front Office Sports.

In late August, SRJ Sports Investments acquired a minority stake in PFL for a reported $100 million according to reports by Sportico and the Financial Times. Per a report from ESPN, the deal “could be worth substantially more.”

“PFL’s mission is to become the global co-leader in MMA with our fighter-first mission and disruptive sport-season format,” PFL Founder and Chairman Donn Davis stated in a release. “This investment by SRJ continues the monumental growth that PFL has experienced throughout the world, and there is no better partner in global sports than SRJ.”

MORE: Sign up to watch the PFL World Championship Finals, exclusively on ESPN+

PFL expansion and international leagues

The PIF’s foray into PFL comes at a time when the organization is looking to aggressively expand.

As an investor, part of the deal includes the launch of PFL MENA in 2024. Including expansion, the PFL and SRJ worked out a deal where Saudi Arabia would host fights within the PPV-produced PFL Super Fights division.

The PFL is already expanding its influence outside the U.S., where it has produced its tournament format since 2018, with winners of various divisions claiming $1 million in prize money. It has already launched PFL Europe, and after signing former UFC heavyweight champion Francis Ngannou, there are plans afoot for PFL Africa. 

Per a release from Sports Pro Media, SRJ Sports Investments will “focus on acquiring and creating new sports events intellectual property (IP), commercial rights of sports competitions and hosting major global events in Saudi Arabia.”

MORE: WWE’s history in Saudi Arabia, explained

“Today marks a new milestone for SRJ as we make our inaugural investment,” said SRJ Chairman Bander Bin Mogren. “SRJ is shaping a new era of sports in Saudi Arabia and accelerating the growth of the domestic sports economy. This investment aims to nurture the local and regional talent pool in martial arts, promote gender equality in sport, and bring new opportunities directly to Saudi Arabia and the wider MENA region.”

The Saudi government has also worked with WWE, as the General Sports Authority has partnered with the pro wrestling giant since 2018.  

What is the PFL Super Fight division?

The Super Fight division will be a separate weight class, where fighters can earn at least 50 percent of the PFL’s pay-per-view revenue. Fights are distributed by PFL partner ESPN as well as DAZN. Competitors will still be able to monetize their own sponsorship deals. 

MORE: Full list of PFL winners by year

Fighters part of the PFL Super Fight division include Jake Paul, Ngannou, Claressa Shields, Kayla Harrison, Amanda Serrano, and Savannah Marshall. 

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