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PFL seeks $50 million investment for international expansion and more

PFL Chairman Donn Davis: “Building the next great sports league takes capital. It takes smarts and takes great talent."
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The Professional Fighters League (PFL) canceled the 2020 season due to the COVID-19 global pandemic, but is seeking another round of funding to expand operations heading into the planned 2021 return. Should the pandemic prohibit live events with an audience next year, the plan is to create a bubble in Las Vegas.

The promotion uses the season format used in mainstream team sports. Season champions in each of the six divisions win $1 million. PFL Investors include Washington Wizards owner Ted Leonsis and Washington Nationals owner Mark Lerner.

PFL Chairman Donn Davis spoke recently with Jabari Young for CNBC and said the promotion has raised $105 million since its launch in 2018, including a $28 million Series B round in 2018 and $50 million Series C round in 2019. Davis said further that they are two years from breaking event, and that they are seeking a further $50 million in further investment, with an eye towards international expansion and expanding OTT technology. 

“Building the next great sports league takes capital,” said Davis. “It takes smarts and takes great talent. Nobody likes to deal with adversity, but the best companies get better.”

“It’s MMA meets March Madness. When you turn on a PFL fight, you know that fighter is fighting for his life. Every fight is an elimination fight. Every fight is a Game 7.”

PFL CEO Peter Murray said they plan to offer partnership rights in the ambling, automobile, and sports drink categories, adding to current sponsors Anheuser-Busch and Geico, and seek international expansion.

“As we see the brand marketplace of advertisers and sponsors, they can no longer ignore a fan base of 450 million around the world,” said Murray. “We see huge opportunity internationally that never existed before. PFL Europe, PFL Russia, PFL Latin America – giving those territories their own PFL league.”

He added that conversations are underway for expansion into Saudi Arabia.

Campbell McLaren, co-creator of UFC and CEO Combate Americas also spoke with CNBC.

“Donn’s premise is: Let’s take the Dana White and Don King aspect out of MMA, and let’s run it like other professional sports leagues,” said McLaren. “Win your fight, move up in the rankings and get the next fight. That’s not how the UFC does it and not how I do it."

What do you think UG? What does the future hold for the PFL?