The Professional Fighters League (PFL), the mixed martial arts organization that acquired a rival organization after receiving funding from Saudi Arabia, has announced that it will host a fight between the two organizations in February.
PFL announced on Saturday (Feb. 17) that “PFL vs Bellator: Champs,” a showdown with Bellator MMA, the mixed martial arts organization it acquired last year, will take place on Feb. 24 at the Kingdom Arena in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.
Produced by the PFL and Saudi Arabia’s General Entertainment Authority (GEA) as part of its winter seasonal festival, Riyadh Season, the event will be the first major joint event since the acquisition of Bellator and will feature fighters from both organizations going head-to-head in a “clash of the champions” format.
The event was made possible by SRJ Sports Investments, which was established in August by Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund Public Investment Fund (PIF), becoming a minority shareholder in PFL. At the time of the announcement, the amount of SRJ’s investment was not known, but international media outlets Sportico and the Financial Times reported that it could be as much as $100 million.
Along with the investment, PFL has also pledged to host a PFL MENA (Middle East and North Africa) regional tournament in 2024 centered around former UFC champion Francis N’Ghanoue, as well as mega-events centered in Saudi Arabia, and this is likely to be the first of those mega-events.
The preliminary card preceding the main event will feature six bouts, including Viaggio Ali Walsh, grandson of legendary boxer Muhammad Ali, making his professional debut against Chris Morris, Saudi Arabian PFL fighter Abdullah Al Quatani against Malik Basahel, and PFL’s Gabriel Braga versus Bellator’s Aaron Pico.
The event’s silver card will feature three head-to-head bouts, including Bruno Capellocha vs. Vadim Nemkov, Thiago Santos vs. Joel Romero, and Clay Collard vs. AJ McKee.
The gold card, which is the equivalent of the main event, will feature four champion vs. champion fights that fit the theme of the event. Starting with the featherweight championship fight between Jesus Pinedo and Patricio Pitbull, followed by the welterweight championship fight between Magomed Magomedkerimov and Jason Jackson, the middleweight championship fight between Impa Cassanei and Korean-born fighter Johnny Evelyn, and the heavyweight championship fight between Henan Pereira and Ryan Vader to close out the festivities.
Announcing the event, GEA Chairman Turki Alalshik said: “We are proud to present this as one of the biggest fight events of the ‘Riyadh Season’. We are delighted to be the organizers of this first-of-its-kind event that will break new ground in combat sports with exciting match-ups.” “We know that the passion for combat sports runs deep in Saudi Arabia and the MENA region, and we are excited to bring an unforgettable night of fighting action to Riyadh next month,” said SRJ CEO Danny Townsend.
“The Middle East is the center of the world of mixed martial arts and PFL is proud to bring the world’s best fighters to Saudi Arabia for ‘Riyadh Season’ and the first ever Super Fight mega global event,” said Peter Murray, CEO of PFL. “The PFL and Bellator clash of champions will be a game changer for the sport.”
Meanwhile, PFL has announced that it will hold an official press conference at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Hollywood, Florida, USA, on April 24 (25th).