PIF's SRJ Sports buys stake in MMA company PFL to boost Mena expansion

A new regional league, PFL Mena, will be launched in the second quarter of next year

Saudi fighter Abdullah Al Qahtani, left, and American David Zelner compete during the Professional Fighters League 2023 playoffs featherweight fight in New York. AFP
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SRJ Sports Investments, owned by Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund, has teamed up with Professional Fighters League, a top mixed martial arts company, to boost the PFL’s regional expansion plans.

As part of the agreement, SRJ has acquired a minority equity ownership stake in the PFL.

It will also become an investor in a new regional league, PFL Mena, which will be launched in the second quarter of next year, the entities said on Wednesday.

SRJ will also support the PFL’s expansion in Saudi Arabia and the wider Mena region, as well as in the recruitment of top fighters globally.

No further details of the investment were disclosed.

“This investment by SRJ continues the monumental growth that PFL has experienced throughout the world, and there is no better partner in global sports than SRJ,” said PFL founder and chairman Donn Davis.

The kingdom’s sovereign wealth fund PIF announced the setting up of SRJ earlier this month to support the growth of the sports sector in the country and across the Mena region.

The PFL partnership marks its inaugural investment.

SRJ aims to invest “in acquiring and creating new sports events IP (intellectual property), commercial rights of popular and prominent sports competitions and hosting major global events in Saudi Arabia”, the PIF said earlier.

It will target businesses that specialise in offering fan engagement activities and transformative sports technology across the industry, with the investments expected to deliver financial returns and partnerships domestically and in the region.

“SRJ is shaping a new era of sports in Saudi Arabia and accelerating the growth of the domestic sports economy,” the company’s chairman Bander Bin Mogren said.

“This investment aims to nurture the local and regional talent pool in martial arts, promote gender equality in sport, and bring new opportunities directly to Saudi Arabia and the wider Mena region.”

PFL was founded in 2018 and is backed by investors including SRJ, Ares, Knighthead, Luxor Capital, Waverley Capital, Elysian Park Ventures as well as NBA, MLB, NHL and MLS team owners.

It plans to launch and develop six international regional leagues by 2026, creating a “Champions League of MMA”.

It is also aiming to unveil a new division, PFL PPV Super Fights, next year that will showcase the best MMA fighters.

SRJ and PFL will jointly develop and host the PFL PPV Super Fights mega-events in the kingdom, officials said.

“PFL and SRJ share the same vision for mixed martial arts – the biggest star fighters, mega global events, and global expansion to bring the sport to all regions – so we are thrilled and honoured to have SRJ as our investment partner,” said PFL chief executive Peter Murray.

Updated: August 30, 2023, 8:01 PM