PFL Chairman Donn Davis Anticipates Dana White’s Concern Over Bellator Buyout

November 21, 2023
5 months
PFL Chairman Donn Davis Anticipates Dana White's Concern Over Bellator Buyout

Donn Davis, the PFL chairman, sees the organization’s acquisition of Bellator as worrying for Dana White

The sale was made official after recent reports emerged that it would take $500 million to finalize the purchase. And prior to the news, the PFL had received a huge investment from the Saudi Arabia Public Investment Fund through the SRJ Sports Investment that totalled over $100 million.

And as part of that process, the aim was to expand the PFL’s profile in the Middle East. At the same time, the PFL signed major fighters. This included former UFC heavyweight champion Francis Ngannou, Jake Paul, Claressa Shields and Amanda Serrano to name a few. The UFC did have the chance to purchase Bellator. However, White ruled that out from the outset, which left the PFL in the leading position to do it. And that growing influence could worry White and the UFC. 

Davis On White

“Everybody knows Dana well enough that he only dismisses things that worry him, or else he just doesn’t comment. He didn’t comment on the PFL for four years because he wasn’t worried. He has commented on the PFL a lot in the last six months. He’s worried,” Davis

Davis also expanded on the quality of their cards moving forward. The aim was to make a ‘champions vs. champions’ card next year. That would also be followed up by a ‘Bellator International Champions Series’, which would include eight events in 2024. And Davis has revealed that he would like to see the champions of the PFL face the champions of Bellator, ideally next year.

PFL’s Aims

“Yes [we want to make that type of event], ideally we’d like to make it in the first quarter [of 2024]. Because the season starts in April, and we’re going to try and launch the reimagined Bellator in March. So, we’d love to do that event in February if we could. Now [that’s] barring the health of all of the fighters. We want that to be the best card possible, but we would love to do that in February if we could,” Davis

That will naturally improve the quality of the shows in light of where the fighters are ranked globally. According to Fight Matrix, the merger has allowed the PFL to close the gap on the UFC moving forward. 

Rankings

“Thirty percent of the UFC roster is top 25 ranked, and now our combined company of PFL and Bellator is 30 percent. The same. Now, to UFC’s credit, if you look at the top five in the world, they still own the top five one through five. So called pay-per-view cards, we couldn’t compete with them right now, which is why we’re only going to have two, and they have 12. But if you say I’m turning on TV on ESPN Saturday night, or I’m going to tune in Friday night to watch this Bellator International Series or PFL, our cards are going to be better,” Davis

As of now, White has refused to do any cross-promotion with the PFL. This was after talk emerged over whether he would be willing to help put on Francis Ngannou vs. Jon Jones. Instead, the CEO of the UFC made it clear that the PFL’s low gates did not make it feasible for the UFC to work with them. Not only that but since White had attempted to make the Ngannou fight with Jones, that ship had sailed. But moving forward, the PFL will have to be considered as a credible rival. 

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