PFL is rumored to be buying Bellator and it’s kind of true

Several companies, including the PFL, are in talks to buy Bellator.

By: John S. Nash | 5 months ago
PFL is rumored to be buying Bellator and it’s kind of true
PFL and Bellator just might come to a deal yet. Chris Rini / BE Art Director

Earlier this week a major stir was created amongst MMA fans when a podcaster reported that the Professional Fighting League (PFL) would not only be acquiring Bellator MMA, but, were in fact already in the process of finalizing the deal. This news was met with a great deal of skepticism from fans and other members of the media, myself included, but after speaking on condition of anonymity to several individuals from both companies who are in position to know about any such transactions, I have been informed that the PFL is indeed in discussions to purchase the rival promotion. In discussions being the key phrase.

The Todd Atkins Show was the first to report the news that the “PFL was on the verge of buying Bellator” and that it was “close to a done deal.” According to those I spoke to this is premature. I have been told that PFL is but one of several potential buyers, and that a deal is not imminent with any of them. It is also very possible that instead of selling the promotion, Bellator’s parent company, Paramount Global, is instead looking for a partner to purchase a share of the promotion from them. 

Bellator has reportedly been on the market for months

Earlier this year Ariel Helwani reported on the MMA Hour rumors that Bellator was on the market. The Wrestling Observer added further details a few weeks ago that “the companies that have been  rumored to be talking about Bellator are all companies that had an interest in buying WWE.” The entities rumored to be interested in the WWE were mostly large media companies like Liberty Media, Comcast, AMAZON, and, of course, Endeavor, who ended up striking a deal to merge the WWE and UFC together in a new company.

With the UFC’s current antitrust lawsuit waiting to be certified for class action and the FTC and DOJ taking much stronger positions with regards to horizontal mergers, we can probably write off Endeavor or the future UFC/WWE company as one of the potential suitors. As for other possibilities, I was not given the names of any potential buyer/investors outside the PFL but was told they include financial institutions and a Gulf state sovereign fund. The valuation for Bellator is apparently set at several hundred million dollars

Paramount turned down past buyers

Bellator has discussed selling a portion of the company to several parties over the years, including a minority stake to DAZN back in 2019 after they had signed a deal to be aired on the streaming service. For whatever reason, in each of these cases the promotion’s owners decided against it. The restructuring of Paramount Global, which is to include the merger of Showtime and Paramount Plus, apparently lead to their renewed interest in unloading the promotion or selling a portion of it to a strategic partner.

Acquiring Bellator would make sense for the PFL, as it would help meet some of their most pressing needs, including that of more talent.

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John S. Nash
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