(MENAFN- The Peninsula) Ayeni Olusegun |
Doha, Qatar: The Professional Fighters League (PFL) is set to launch PFL Middle East and North Africa (MENA) in 2024, with plans to host fights in Qatar and across the region.
“We're executing against our global vision and international expansion. We launched PFL Europe last year. We just announced MENA, which will launch in 2024, allowing the top Middle Eastern fighters to become champions,” Chief Executive Officer and Board Member of the PFL, Peter Murray, told The Peninsula in an interview.
“I think just to put a fine point on the region and Qatar. We're excited about the opportunity to stage future events and grow PFL Global and PFL MENA, partnering with several stakeholders throughout Qatar. So we're very much looking forward to expanding our presence throughout the Middle East, including Qatar,” Murray said, adding that more details about PFL MENA would be disclosed in due course.
PFL is the only organisation in Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) with a sports-season format, where individual fighters from around 25 countries compete in a regular season, playoffs, and championship each year, making PFL a“win and advance” meritocracy like all other major sports leagues.
Murray disclosed that PFL MENA will be headquartered in Saudi Arabia. However, the athletes will come from all over the Middle East, and the content will be distributed globally and in the region by MBC. He added that the PFL, which already has visibility in over 160 countries, would stage multiple events annually in the region.
“Starting in 2024, we'll have at least six events in the Middle East, including PSL MENA, pay-per-view, and our world championship. There'll be a significant PFL presence in the region, offering fans the most premium production and top competition to experience in the market and in prime time,” he added.
PFL, launched five years ago, is the fastest-growing sports league in the world, and MMA is the fastest growing sport of the decade, ranking as the third largest fan base behind football and basketball with 650 million fans. Murray noted that 80% of the fan base is outside the US.
“There's an incredible amount of top talent around the world who are looking for a major platform and alternative to compete against top talent consistently on major media platforms, and the Middle East represents a major opportunity for top athletes from the region, for media companies as well as fans.”
The UFC is universally considered the leader in the MMA, but with the PFL a close second, Murray believes that it has the structure to build a lasting legacy in the MENA and globally.
Murray stressed that with the demand in the region, the PFL reckons there'll be an explosive growth in talent development across the MENA.
“There's a plethora of top talent athletes looking to compete against top competition on major platforms like the PFL global platform as well as regional platform and PFL MENA. We currently have multiple MMA fighters from the Middle East, like Mustafa Rashid Nada from Saudi Arabia, Abdullah Al Qahtani from Saudi Arabia, Muhammad Fakhrudin, who's Lebanese and many others.
“These are some of the top fighters from the region and more to come in terms of our next phase of Middle Eastern fighters who will be signed to the PFL. We're also putting resources against developing future champions from the region,” Murray added.
Recently, a company owned by Saudi Arabia's Public Investment Fund (PIF) reportedly bought a minority stake in the PFL.
The PFL earlier this year signed former UFC heavyweight champion Francis Ngannou, who joins Jake Paul on the platform where they'll compete in the promotion's pay-per-view superfight division. The PFL is also an innovation-driven platform using proprietary smart-cage technology biometric sensors to track and deliver real-time fighter performance data.
PFL is the first and only MMA league with a true sports-season format where elite fighters worldwide compete in a Regular Season, Playoffs and Championship. The four competitors in each division who earn the most points in the Regular Season advance to the win-or-go-home Playoffs, followed by the biggest night in MMA – the PFL World Championship – with each winner going home with a $1m prize.
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