The Professional Fighters League (PFL), the US-based mixed martial arts (MMA) series, has entered into a “historic two-part exclusive partnership” with US influencer-turned-fighter Jake Paul.
The agreement, announced yesterday (January 5), will see Paul fight exclusively in the PFL’s new Pay-Per-View (PPV) Super Fights division he co-created with the series, plans for which were first revealed last year.
He has again proposed a two-fight deal with former Ultimate Fighting Championship superstar Nate Diaz.
In addition, Paul and his business partner Nakisa Bidarian “will utilize their expertise and platforms to help recruit, market, and promote the new PFL PPV Super Fight Division for the benefit of all top fighters.”
The PFL has now declared the new division “open for business effective immediately,” with Paul as its first fighter under contract.
It is being touted as being run on a “fighter-first” basis, with revenue for each fight being split 50/50 between the PFL and the fighters involved.
This aspect of the division is said to have been key to Paul’s involvement, and, in line with that, he has been appointed head of fighter advocacy with a remit of continuing “to work towards a business model that benefits all top fighters.”
Paul said: “I plan to enter the PFL SmartCage and once again show the world that anything is possible with hard work and dedication. Outside of the cage, equal fighter pay and advocating for female fighters has been my passion, and I am aligned with PFL to evolve the sport.
“I believe in PFL, their mission, and what they have accomplished in a very short period of time. That is why I chose to partner with PFL exclusively, both as a fighter and a businessperson. As head of fighter advocacy, I will consistently promote PFL fighters and I invite all top MMA fighters, both men and women, to join the PFL and get a payday like they've never had before.”
Of the plans for PFL PPV Super Fights, Bidarian added: “Jake and I have proven our ability to successfully promote and stage major international PPV events. We look forward to having a similar result with PFL within the sport of MMA.
“Our creativity and expertise, paired with PFL's great reputation and strong position, will push MMA into a new phase of growth and one with more freedom and economic opportunity for fighters. Through our years of experience, we have developed a unique network of people and a novel approach to promotion and content, which we plan to bring to PFL with full force.”
PFL PPV Super Fights, which will be stand-alone events separate from the PFL league season, will launch this year with two planned bouts, and the aim is to increase the number of events in the coming years.
PFL chairman and founder Donn Davis said: “I founded PFL to innovate, professionalize, and grow MMA, and we have done that with our disruptive sport-season format which put fighters first as they control their own destiny.
“Today, we begin our next phase of growth by disrupting the MMA pay-per-view market, with an unprecedented new model where fighters will be true 50/50 economic partners in PPV revenues. I'm gratified that Jake and Nakisa chose to join PFL, and I can't wait to see what Jake does as a fighter, creator, and promoter in MMA with PFL.”
The partnership with Paul will generate exposure for the PPV Super Fights divisions and the PFL more broadly, and it is the latest development for the series as it continues to grow at pace.
The division was announced last May along with the completion of a $30-million Series E investment round to fund it.
That was followed in July by the PFL’s announcement that it will launch a new European league in 2023 as part of its ongoing expansion.
Then, in October, the PFL announced the formation of a joint venture with sports streaming service DAZN to run PFL Europe.
The series has broadcast deals in place with ESPN domestically and in Sub-Saharan Africa, DAZN in Japan and Spain, DirecTV in South America, and Viaplay in 10 European markets, among a host of others.
The PFL regards itself as the number two MMA company globally and notes that it is the only MMA league with a “true sports-season format” comprising a regular season, playoffs, and championship.