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PFL: Saudi Arabia's PIF buys stake in mixed martial arts promotion

Francis Ngannou leaves the octagon after beating Ciryl Gane in 2022
Former UFC heavyweight champion Ngannou is set to front the PFL's new Super Fight division.

A company owned by Saudi Arabia's Public Investment Fund (PIF) has bought a minority stake in the Professional Fighters League (PFL).

The deal with PIF's subsidiary SRJ Sports Investments (SRJ) will see the launch of an MMA league and Super Fight division in Saudi Arabia.

The PFL signed Francis Ngannou and Jake Paul, among others, earlier this year to front its new Super Fight division.

The first Super Fight event will take place in 2024, according to the PFL.

"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," said PFL chief Peter Murray.

SRJ, who have acquired a minority equity ownership stake in the PFL, will become an investor in a new league called PFL MENA (Middle East and North Africa).

The move continues the PFL's ambition to create six regional leagues by 2026 as well as a "Champions League of MMA".

It follows the launch of a European league this year, to compliment its US-based global format, which was established in 2018.

The PFL's new Super Fight division is separate from its league format, and is set to "showcase the best MMA fighters and biggest global fighting stars on the planet", according to the organisation.

The move marks Saudi Arabia's first significant involvement in MMA after investing billions into sports such as football, boxing and golf.

The strategy has been criticised by some, with critics arguing the country is using sport to change its image and divert attention away from Saudi Arabia's poor human rights record - a process known as sportswashing.

The PIF also also owns Premier League club Newcastle United, Saudi Pro League sides Al-Ahli, Al-Hilal, Al-Ittihad an Al-Nassr, and has merged its Liv Golf brand with the PGA Tour.