Riyadh showcase bouts February fever pitch



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PFL Super Fight in Saudi Arabia Image: PFL

The Riyadh Season has revealed that the Professional Fighters League (PFL) and the General Entertainment Authority (GEA) will host an unprecedented pay-per-view mega event – the PFL Champions vs. Bellator Champions – from the state-of the-art Kingdom Arena in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, on February 24th.

‘PFL’ stated that this unprecedented Champions vs. Champions fight card features four co-main fights of the current PFL Champions vs. the current Bellator Champions. In addition, the card features two compelling matchups of the previous PFL title challenges vs. previous Bellator title challengers.

The Riyadh Season is an annual State-funded entertainment and sports festival, started as part of 11 entertainment festivals carried by the Saudi Seasons initiative that was launched in 2019. The Riyadh Season starts in October and ends towards March during Winter and Spring in the Saudi Arabia capital Riyadh.

Saudi Arabia’s capital embraces one of the world’s biggest entertainment events every year during Winter. Since the launch of the Riyadh Season in 2019, the festival has welcomed visitors from all over the world to experience thousands of concerts, sporting activities and other unique cultural events.

The Saudi Seasons are a series of cultural festivals celebrating the heritage, culture and history of Saudi Arabia. These seasons shouldn’t be confused with the seasonal times of the year, as the initiative was launched to promote tourism and economic growth in Saudi Arabia.

McLean (US)-based the Professional Fighters League (PFL) is a global powerhouse in Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) and the fastest-growing sports league worldwide. The PFL has five live fight franchises, offering year-round content: The PFL League Season, the PFL PPV Super Fights (a division of the PFL that features pay-per-view events), the PFL Challenger Series (American mixed martial arts competition), the PFL International Leagues, and Bellator.

Founded in 2018, the PFL is backed by major blue-chip investors including SRJ, Ares, Knighthead, Luxor Capital (a hedge fund that offers investment advisory services and equity and fixed income investments), Waverley Capital (a venture capital firm that invests in early-stage startups in the media and entertainment sectors), Elysian Park Ventures (a venture capital and private equity firm that provides resources to companies in the sports, technology and entertainment industries), and numerous National Basketball Association (NBA), Major League Baseball (MLB), National Hockey League (NHL), and Major League Soccer (MLS) team owners. The MMA is the growth sports business of this decade, with 650 million fans worldwide, the youngest audience demographic and true global revenue streams.

Riyadh (Saudi Arabia)-based the SRJ (/Surge/) Sports Investments is a leading sports investor, wholly- owned by the Public Investment Fund (PIF) and established to develop a world-class sports sector in Saudi Arabia and beyond. The SRJ Sports Investments focuses on driving sustainable investment across technology, media, programing, intellectual property (IP) rights, and commercialization of the venues – serving the sports sector in Saudi Arabia and across the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region.

Riyadh (Saudi Arabia)-based the Public Investment Fund (PIF) is the sovereign wealth fund of Saudi Arabia. It is among the largest sovereign wealth funds in the world with total estimated assets of US$776 billion. It was created in 1971 for the purpose of investing funds on behalf of the Government of Saudi Arabia.

The Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) is a full-contact combat sport based on striking, grappling and ground fighting, incorporating techniques from various combat sports from around the world.

Bellator is a US-based mixed martial arts (MMA) promotion company. It was founded in 2008 by businessman Bjorn Rebney and was previously known as Bellator Fighting Championships. Bellator hosts events around the world and has featured many top athletes.

New York (US)-based the National Basketball Association (NBA) is a professional basketball league in North America composed of 30 teams. It is one of the major professional sports leagues in the United States and Canada and is considered the premier professional basketball league in the world.

New York (US)-based the Major League Baseball (MLB) is a professional baseball league. One of the major professional sports leagues in the United States and Canada, the MLB comprises 30 teams, divided equally between the National League (NL) and the American League (AL), with 29 in the United States and 1 in Canada.

New York (US)-based the National Hockey League (NHL) is a professional ice hockey league in North America comprising 32 teams – 25 in the United States and 7 in Canada.

The Major League Soccer (MLS) is a men’s professional soccer league sanctioned by the United States Soccer Federation, which represents the sport’s highest level in the United States. The league comprises 29 teams – 26 in the United States and 3 in Canada – since the 2023 season. The league is headquartered in Midtown Manhattan.

The Kingdom Arena is a 47-meter-tall, 220 by 150-meter indoor arena in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. It has a capacity to hold 26,000 spectators. The arena is the new home of the Saudi Pro League (the highest division of association football in the Saudi league system) team Al Hilal Saudi Football Club.

‘PFL’ further stated that the first-ever PFL PPV Super Fight event will feature seven matchups between the current and former champions, as well as title challengers from PFL and Bellator, and will be available on ESPN+ PPV and DAZN beginning at 3 pm ET. In addition, three major showcase bouts will take place during the preliminary card airing in the United States on ESPNEWS and ESPN+ in the US beginning at 12 pm ET.

In today’s landscape of fight games, fans want to see the best fights potted against the best. With PFL’s acquisition of Bellator, the fight fans are going to receive that on February 24th when two MMA giants descend on Saudi Arabia to see who comes out on top. The newly-designed Super Fight Championship belts and the future of PFL and Bellator highlight this spectacle of three-round super fights where elbows are legal and the winner-takes-all.

In the main event, the heavyweights collide when PFL’s Renan Ferreira (Brazilian mixed martial artist) (12-3), fresh off his emphatic second round technical knockout (TKO) victory during the 2023 PFL Championship meets the first athlete in Bellator history to become champion in two weight divisions simultaneously, Ryan Bader (American mixed martial artist) (31-7).

The newly-crowned PFL Light Heavyweight kingpin Impa Kasanganay (American mixed martial artist) (15-3) returns to 185-pounds for the first time since joining PFL when he challenges the man many fans consider to be the best middleweight on the planet, undefeated Johnny Eblen (American mixed martial artist) (14-0).

The two-time PFL champion Magomed Magomedkerimov (Russian mixed martial artist) (34-6), who is currently in the midst of a six-fight unbeaten streak puts his current run of success on the line against Bellator welterweight titlist Jason Jackson (Jamaican mixed martial artist) (17-4). The proud Jamaican recently put an end to the longest winning streak in MMA (27) when he won the title from Yaroslav Amosov (Ukrainian mixed martial artist).

At featherweight, the pride of Peru, Jesus Pinedo (Peruvian mixed martial artist) (23-6-1) returns to action fresh off his 2023 PFL Championship victory to take on one of Bellator’s most successful fighter of all-time, Brazil’s Patrício Pitbull (Brazilian mixed martial artist) (35-7), the current Bellator Featherweight Champion and the former Lightweight Champion.

In addition to the four bouts featuring the current PFL and Bellator champions, the former heavyweight champ Bruno Cappelozza (Brazilian mixed martial artist) (15-6) welcomes the former Bellator Light Heavyweight champion Vadim Nemkov (Russian mixed martial artist) (17-2) to the 265-pound limit when they clash on February 24th. A pair of heavy-handed former No. 1 contenders is also set to square off at 205-pounds when Brazil’s Thiago Santos (Brazilian mixed martial artist) (22-11) goes up against the former Olympian Yoel Romero (Cuban mixed martial artist) (15-7).

Rounding out the PPV portion of the spectacle will see the always exciting Clay Collard (Clay Collard) (24- 11) challenge the former Bellator Featherweight Champion A.J. McKee (American mixed martial artist) (21-1) in a special lightweight showdown of striking specialists.

During the Champions vs. Champions preliminary card, the top featherweight contender from PFL Gabriel Braga (Brazilian mixed martial artist) (12-1) and the top featherweight contender from Bellator Aaron Pico (American mixed martial artist) (12-4) will square off, while Biaggio Ali Walsh, grandson of the iconic boxer Muhammad Ali, makes his pro debut at 155-pounds. The Champions vs. Champions also will mark the return to the PFL SmartCage for Claressa Shields (American professional boxer and mixed martial artist), the world’s greatest women’s boxer, rounding out a great collection of talent in MMA and combat sports.

Maintained His Excellency Turki Alalshikh, Chairman of the General Entertainment Authority (GEA), “The Riyadh Season is putting on some of the biggest fight events around and the PFL Champions vs. Bellator Champions certainly belongs in that category. We are delighted to be the host for this first-of-its-kind event, which will see some of the most exciting matchups and break new ground in the world of combat sports.”

Put in Peter Murray, PFL head honcho, “The Middle East is the fight capital of the world, and the Professional Fighters League is proud to bring the world’s best combat sports stars to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia for the Riyadh Season to host the first-ever PFL PPV Super Fight mega-global event. The PFL Champions versus the Bellator Champions is game changing for the fighters and fans. I would like to thank HE Turki Alalshikh, the GEA and the SRJ for this incredible opportunity to grow the sport of MMA in The Kingdom and around the world.”

Riyadh (Saudi Arabia)-based the General Entertainment Authority, formerly the General Authority for Entertainment, is a Government department in Saudi Arabia that regulates the entertainment industry of the country.

Maintained Danny Townsend, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) at SRJ Sports Investments, “Knowing that the passion for combat sports runs deep across Saudi Arabia and the wider MENA region, we’re thrilled to bring Champions vs. Champions to Riyadh next month, for what promises to be an unforgettable night of fight action. The Champions vs. Champions will be a truly global sporting spectacle, watched by millions of fans around the world and played out in front of one of combat sports’ biggest yet still fastest growing international audiences. For us as SRJ Sports Investments, backing the growth of game-changing brands like the PFL is center to our ambitions of unlocking the global opportunities through sports that have strong regional relevance here in the MENA Region, contributing to the wider sports economy and inspiring the next generation of Saudis.”

Said Shay Segev, DAZN Group CEO,, “We are delighted to once again partner with The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and Riyadh Season for the PFL Champions vs. Champions event. The PFL is one of the most exciting and innovative sports brands around. This, coupled with HE Turki Alalshikh’s vision, will make the February 24th a night to remember. The fight sports fans across the world will soon be able to tune in for a truly exceptional run of shows live from Riyadh on DAZN, including this PFL mega event.”

London (UK)-based the DAZN is a British over-the-top sports streaming and entertainment platform. The DAZN platform broadcasts live and on-demand sport in over 200 countries worldwide with a strong domestic presence in Italy, Spain, Germany, Japan, France, Portugal, Belgium, Taiwan, the United States, and Canada, where it has key domestic broadcast rights.

As part of the historic investment agreement announced last year, the Professional Fighters League and the SRJ Sports Investments (‘SRJ’) will host multiple PFL PPV Super Fight Division mega-global events in Saudi Arabia each year.

The Riyadh Season attracts people from all over the world to experience a wide range of international martial arts and boxing events. It also offers various entertainment options and international experiences. During the Winter months, the visitors can enjoy thousands of concerts, exhibitions and other events in Riyadh. This unique entertainment includes participation from the celebrities and the well-known brands.

The PFL is the only organization in the MMA with a sports-season format, where individual fighters compete in a regular season, playoffs and championship each year. The combined roster of PFL and Bellator boasts 30 percent of its fighters independently world-ranked in the top 25 of their respective weight class, the same percentage as the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC). The PFL has an expansive global vision for the sport and is building the ‘Champions League of MMA’ with PFL Europe, PFL MENA and more international leagues in development. The PFL leads in technology and innovation, with its proprietary PFL SmartCage, powering fight analytics, realtime betting, artificial intelligence (AI) scoring, and a next-generation viewing experience. The PFL is primetime on ESPN/ESPN+ in the United States and is broadcast and streamed in 150 countries with 20 premium media distribution partners.

The Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) is an American mixed martial arts promotion company based in Las Vegas, Nevada. It is owned and operated by the TKO Group Holdings (American media conglomerate), a majority-owned subsidiary of the Endeavor Group Holdings (an American holding company for talent and media agencies). It is the largest MMA promotion in the world as of 2023.

The Professional Fighters League (PFL) SmartCage is a 10-sided cage used for mixed martial arts (MMA) matches. The SmartCage uses biometric sensors and proprietary technology to measure realtime fighter performance data and analytics.

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