PFL Officially Acquires Bellator MMA, Bellator to Continue Internationally

Patchy Mix, Bellator 301
Patchy Mix, Bellator 301 Credit: Lucas Noonan/Bellator MMA

New details emerge as the acquisition of Bellator MMA by the PFL has been made official ahead of their championship event this Friday.

The PFL has officially acquired Bellator and it means a new day has officially arrived in the MMA landscape.

Per a press release, Bellator will continue as a “reimagined brand” in 2024 with “all Bellator fighters becoming available to compete in PFL franchises.”  Exactly how this is expected to be divided is still uncertain but it does confirm that the contracts of all Bellator fighters will indeed go under the umbrella of the PFL, thus adding a significant amount of elite talent to their already respectable roster.

The Todd Atkins MMA Show first reported news of a potential sale of Bellator to the PFL earlier this year. In late October, journalist Al Zullino reported that the sale had been finalized.

PFL CEO Donn Davis announced that the Bellator brand would operate primarily outside of the US as “Bellator International Champions Series” which hints that the brand would continue their strong presence in Europe where fan reception to events has been astronomical.

Davis also announced that the plan was to host a super-event next year that would feature the Bellator champions against the PFL champions, the latter of which will be determined at their event this Friday which concludes the 2023 season.

As of this writing, it has not been established exactly which fighters will continue to anchor the Bellator brand and which will be part of the PFL vs Bellator event.  It should be noted, however, that the PFL does not currently have divisions for several of the weight classes that Bellator does such as men’s bantamweight, men’s middleweight, and women’s flyweight.  Another point to address is that it is completely possible that just because the fighters are in a division that the PFL houses it does not mean that they will fight in the PFL immediately.

Exactly where Bellator goes with their lightweight Grand Prix is unclear and has not yet been addressed.  On Friday, Alexandr Shabliy defeated Patricky “Pitbull” Freire to reach the finals of the tournament.  A week earlier, champion  Usman Nurmagomedov had his victory over Brent Primus overturned to a No Contest after testing positive for a banned substance.  What the promotion’s plan, if there was one at all with the impending merger, for the tournament going forward was not made official.  Whether there is a tournament final at all as part of the Bellator International Series has not been announced.

PFL CEO Donn Davis is scheduled to make a media appearance later today to discuss the merger.