One month after announcing the shutdown of Showtime Sports at year-end, Paramount Global on Monday (November 20) sold its Bellator mixed martial arts franchise to the Saudi Arabia-backed Professionals Fighters League.
Terms of the deal were not disclosed. Paramount, which has owned Bellator since 2011, will retain a minority stake in the franchise. Paramount-owned Showtime has offered Bellator events on its air and via pay-per-view since 2021.
The five-year-old PFL will add Bellator to its four existing MMA franchises, including the PFL League Season, PFL PPV Super Fights, PFL Challenger Series and the PFL International Leagues. The company plans to offer eight Bellator fight events yearly under the Bellator International Champions Series.
PFL also looks to create a major event in 2024, pitting the PFL Champions versus the Bellator Champions. PFL founder and chairman Donn Davis said the deal positions PFL well against the category leader, the Endeavor Group Holdings-owned UFC.
“PFL is now a global powerhouse in MMA,” PFL founder and chairman Donn Davis said in a statement. “Our Bellator acquisition turbocharges PFL’s mission to innovate the sport and become the industry co-leader.”
The deal comes as Paramount plans to shut down Showtime Sports and its live MMA and boxing events at the end of 2023. Showtime will distribute its last scheduled pay-per-view boxing event on Saturday (November 25) featuring the David Benavidez-Demetrius Andrade middleweight championship fight.
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R. Thomas Umstead serves as senior content producer, programming for Multichannel News, Broadcasting + Cable and Next TV. During his more than 30-year career as a print and online journalist, Umstead has written articles on a variety of subjects ranging from TV technology, marketing and sports production to content distribution and development. He has provided expert commentary on television issues and trends for such TV, print, radio and streaming outlets as Fox News, CNBC, the Today show, USA Today, The New York Times and National Public Radio. Umstead has also filmed, produced and edited more than 100 original video interviews, profiles and news reports featuring key cable television executives as well as entertainers and celebrity personalities.