By Dane McGuire
The mixed martial arts landscape could look a little different in the near future. After speculation, the heads of both Bellator MMA and the Professional Fighters League have confirmed discussions are ongoing–but not exactly those once rumored.
The word being thrown around prior to now had been specifically a merger between the PFL and Bellator, but Bellator President Scott Coker said the organization is more so in search of a partner, declining to say much more.
“That’s really been Viacom that’s been handling that. So we’ll see where that nets out. We’ll probably have some clarity in the next 60 to 90 days,” Coker said. “ … (PFL) is definitely in the conversation. There’s a couple conversations going on right now with Viacom and other companies. PFL is definitely one of them.”
“Let’s just wait to see what happens,” Coker said. “It could go a lot of different ways.”‘
PFL head Ray Sefo has also confirmed talks are ongoing. Still he only said in a press scrum “Yeah, we’ve got something cooking.”
Rumors first started last month when a podcast, The Todd Atkins Show, first reported “PFL was on the verge of buying Bellator” and that it was “close to a done deal.”
Veteran MMA journalist Ariel Helwani had said about a month ago the rumors were unfounded and untrue. John S. Nash from BloodyElbow reported he spoke to people involved and said this was premature. Nash echoed Coker by noting parent company Paramount Global is indeed seeking out a partner instead.
Still Helwani had also said on The MMA Hour Bellator has been on the market for some time companies with an interest in Bellator had been those with an interest in professional wrestling giant WWE.
The sports entertainment giant is now under the umbrella of Endeavor — the parent company to the UFC. Endeavor has purchased a majority share. As a result a new public company between UFC and WWE will form. Ari Emanuel, CEO at Endeavor will oversee the resulting parent company. Endeavor has a 51 percent controlling interest. WWE shareholders will have 49 percent.
Circling back to Bellator, Nash wrote, “As for other possibilities, I was not given the names of any potential buyer/investors outside the PFL but was told they include financial institutions and a Gulf state sovereign fund.”
CageNation will have more on this story as it develops.