The sporting investments of the PIF in Saudi Arabia have continued as the group has made a venture into MMA – acquiring a minority stake in the PFL.
As a result of the $100mn investment, the PFL will build a tournament in the region in a bid to boost Saudi MMA off the back of the success of the victories of Mostafa Rashed Nada and Abdullah Al-Qahtani at a PFL event this month.
Having splurged into a large number of sports and made major investments in football and boxing in recent times, MMA marks a new venture for the region.
It is a collaboration that will likely see Francis Ngannou make his PFL debut in the region, as well as Jake Paul should he decide to make the move into MMA.
Ngannou’s professional boxing debut will also take place in Saudi Arabia, when he challenges heavyweight king Tyson Fury in October.
The United Arab Emirates has previously been viewed as the capital for MMA in the Middle East, having had a strong rapport with the UFC after the two hosted events on ‘Fight Island’ during the pandemic.
The link between Saudi and the PFL will look to rival that status as the sport grows. The UFC will also return to the UAE just a week prior to Fury vs Ngannou in Riyadh, in a two week spell that will provide insight for the appetite of combat sports in the Middle East.
What it means for the widely rumoured PFL acquisition of Bellator also remains to be seen, as the PFL looks to expand with six new regional tournaments.
SRJ’s Chairman, Bander Bin Mogren, stated on the deal: “Today marks a new milestone for SRJ as we make our inaugural investment. SRJ is shaping a new era of sports in Saudi Arabia and accelerating the growth of the domestic sports economy.
“This investment aims to nurture the local and regional talent pool in martial arts, promote gender equality in sport, and bring new opportunities directly to Saudi Arabia and the wider MENA region.”
The Chief Executive Officer of the PFL, Peter Murray, added on the deal: “PFL and SRJ share the same vision for mixed martial arts – the biggest star fighters, mega global events, and global expansion to bring the sport to all regions – so we are thrilled and honoured to have SRJ as our investment partner.”