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Saudi Arabia must have really enjoyed their battle with the PGA.
The state’s $650 billion Public Investment Fund said Wednesday it is acquiring a minority stake in the US-based Professional Fighters League, one of the UFC’s middleweight mixed martial arts rivals. Can PFL be the new LIV of PIF?
Saudi Arabia’s entry into sports – which most scornful critics have labeled an attempt to ‘whitewash’ its abhorrent and ongoing record of human rights abuses – has completely transformed the industry. Its LIV golf league lured away many top golfers with promises of massive payouts before eventually merging with the PGA in June. In 2021, it acquired a majority stake in the Premier League’s Newcastle United football club, and earlier this year lured soccer legend Cristiano Ronaldo to Saudi Pro League club Al Nassr in a deal potentially worth up to $200 million per year .
It now has its sights set on the Octagon – hoping to enjoy PFL’s presence both at home and abroad:
- According to, PIF is investing $100 million for a minority stake in PFL financial Times, The league, founded in 2017 by venture capitalist Don Davis, was valued at about $500 million in a funding round last year.
- The PFL will begin hosting events in Saudi Arabia and launch a Middle Eastern division next year, the league said in a statement. In May, it signed top UFC star Francis Nganoua in what PFL CEO Peter Murray called the “most lucrative” deal in MMA history, and in January it hosted pay-per-view fights with YouTuber-turned-fighter Jake made a deal to Paul.
Check Score: The acquisition follows a major failure for the Saudi fund: earlier this summer, it reportedly failed to sign superstar French footballer Kylian Mbappe on a one-year deal worth $776 million. However, the title still caught the attention of some famous athletes, including NBA stars LeBron James and Giannis Antetokounmpo. Even in defeat, PIF gets PR’s victory. We’ll call it a split verdict.