DC based group to launch UFC competitor

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

A number of wealthy individuals have made a small fortune in MMA, by starting with a large one. ProElite XC reportedly lost $36,000,000. The IFL reportedly beat that figure easily, losing $55,000,000. The losing number for Affliction MMA is unknown, but it’s a bunch of millions.

However, the lure of owning a fight promotion apparently remains. Hedge Fund manager and philanthropist Russ Ramsey has reportedly bought World Series of Fighting, and will relauch it in early 2018 as the Professional Fighters League. D.C. venture capitalists Donn Davis and Mark Leschly are co-founders.

The Washington Post reports that investors include Ted Leonsis, owner of the Washington Capitals, Mystics and Wizards, and members of the Lerner family, who own the Washington Nationals. Other investors include Brandon Beck, founder of eSports company Riot Games, and Los Angeles Dodgers Chief Financial Officer Tucker Kain.

The PFL is described as, “The World’s Only Mixed Martial Arts League,” and reportedly aims to go head-to-head against the UFC.


Via Press Release:

Today, the Professional Fighters League announced the formation of the world’s only mixed martial arts league. The new league will debut in January 2018 with a $10 million prize pool across seven weight classes. The Professional Fighters League purchased the fighting operations and event infrastructure of the World Series of Fighting (WSOF) earlier this year.

Russ Ramsey, Executive Chairman, Professional Fighters League, described the new league as a transformative moment for MMA: “The Professional Fighters League brings a proven sports format that fans love and athletes respect to MMA for the first time. Featuring a regular season, post-season, and championship structure, the launch of the Professional Fighters League continues the evolution of MMA into a professional, mass-market, prime-time sport for a global audience.”

The new league is open to all professional MMA fighters worldwide. Fighters will participate in one of seven weight classes and compete in regularly scheduled fights throughout a season. At the end of the regular season, fighters with the best records will advance to a “win-or-go-home” post-season playoff tournament. Each tournament winner in the seven weight classes will be named the Professional Fighters League season champion and collect a $1 million cash prize. An additional $3 million will be shared between other regular season and playoff competitors.

The Professional Fighters League format gives every fighter an equal and fair shot, and provides fans the excitement and transparency of a true sport.

Ray Sefo, President, Fighting Operations, Professional Fighters League added: “All fighters deserve to control their own destiny, to win or lose on their own merits. There are thousands of professional MMA fighters, and yet in the entire history of the sport, only a handful of these athletes have ever fought for $1 million. We are proud to offer that opportunity to every fighter in the Professional Fighters League.”

The new league will also deliver a more accessible, engaging and innovative experience for new and current fans of MMA.

Carlos Silva, President, Event Production and Business Operations, Professional Fighters League said: “Our experience and product – in the arena, on TV, and through digital – will connect MMA fans to our fighters and the sport they love in unique and innovative ways. Over the coming months we’ll be announcing more details on how we’re transforming the MMA experience for fighters and fans.”

Professional MMA athletes interested in information about joining the league should contact Ray Sefo at tfighters@professionalfightersleague.com, or visit professionalfightersleague.com for more information.

The PFL will apparently have a ten-month season, and a tournament structure. Given Bellator MMA’s experiment with seasons and tournaments, it is difficult to imagine anyone viewing tournaments as a viable avenue to going head to head with the UFC, or for that matter Bellator, or for that matter any Extreme Ultimate Battle Cage Fight promotion. That said, the group has deep pockets, extraordinary business acumen, and is offering extremely generous prize money, in a sport that is not generous to fighters.

So three cheers for the PFL.

It will be interesting to learn details on how the PFL will be transforming the MMA experience for fighters and fans. Hopefully they get a logo soon.