The Professional Fighters League (PFL) is coming for the Middle East, at least according to one of its ambassadors and main analysts. After the promotion landed the biggest deal of the year by signing former UFC heavyweight champion Francis Ngannou, they want to keep the ball rolling and expand their territory now that they have one of the most sought after athletes in current MMA.
Randy Couture is leaving for Saudi Arabia
In an interview with MMA News, former UFC heavyweight and light heavyweight champion Randy Couture revealed what the PFL plans for expansion look like for the near future. While the deal is yet to be closed, the ‘Natural’ hopes they can find an agreements as it is understood that the Middle East is a hot spot for sports at moment, given that the last FIFA World Cup was just hosted in Qatar and interest in region has been growing.
“I leave tomorrow for Saudi Arabia,” Couture said. “Peter Murray’s gonna be with us, as one of the bosses to close the deal. Saudi Arabia and that area of the world is looking to bring more culture to that region. That’s why the World Cup was just there in Qatar, they’re just really trying to bring more things there and the Saudis have set their sights on MMA and the PFL. We’re gonna go over and hopefully close the deal to look at opening a PFL Middle East and starting to develop some talent and some opportunities for folks in that region in the sport.”
The royal family wants in on the deal
In fact, Couture’s plans are so serious he is even meeting with Saudi royal family, as they are the most interested party in expanding sports in their part of the world. Though the former UFC champion admits he does not yet know what will come of the negotiations, the assured MMA News that the PFL is interested in reaching all parts of the world, so a move to the Middle East definitely makes sense for the promotion.
“I know we’re meeting with the royal family and they’re the ones who are interested in pushing this agenda,” Couture explained. “What their goals are and the PFL’s goals are might be different, I’m not sure at this point, I think it makes a lot of sense to start a PFL Middle East just like we did with PFL Europe…I feel like the same thing would go really well with PFL Middle East.”
The PFL returns soon
Randy Couture (19-11) had a legendary run in the UFC, winning both the heavyweight and light heavyweight belts on more than one occasion. During his time, the Natural scored wins over the biggest names of his generation, such as Chuck Liddell, Pedro Rizzo, Vitor Belfort, Tito Ortiz and Kevin Randleman, among others.
The next PFL card is scheduled for June 8 in Atlanta, Georgia. The event is expected to be headlined by a match in the featherweight tournament between 2022’s champion Brendan Loughnane and Peru’s Jesus Pinedo. A light heavyweight bout between 2022 tournament winner Rob Wilkinson and Ty Flores is set to co-headline the event.
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