PFL: Professional Fighters League
Big television producers know a little something about what makes money in the media world. “The most valuable thing in media right now is content that can drive subscription opportunities,” says Mark Burnett, one of a handful of big-name investors interested in MMA. Burnett recently invested seed capital to launch the PFL – a new “team-based” MMA promotion that’s now airing on the NBC Sports Network.
MMA continues to grow in popularity, both on traditional broadcasting and digital media platforms. The sport is getting more views, more likes, more shares, and more love from people who enjoy watching the sport. Fans love to see the sport grow and cheer on young fighters who have dedicated their time and energy to making it in the big leagues, like the UFC.
“[The PFL] is a big sports opportunity,” Burnett stated in an interview with Variety Magazine. He and other big investors like Tony Robbins, Kevin Hart, and Washington Capitals owner Ted Leonsis all invested in the new promotion, totaling $28 million.
Investments are made, of course, in hopes of a significant ROI, but also in efforts to help the PFL see similar success as the UFC. This promotion is important, not only for the investors supplying big dollars but also (and most importantly) for the fighters.
An excellent example of a UFC fighter who made his way in the public spotlight via the “minor league MMA shows” is “The Cowboy,” Donald Cerrone.
Cerrone, a famous UFC fighter, recently launched the Cowboy Fight Series that he says will give amateur fighters “the opportunity to earn a professional fight contract with top regional promotions.” He wants to give fighters a chance to live and train at the BMF Ranch with top professionals.
“11 years ago, the Mask Skrape and Punkass from the Tapout crew found me fighting on the regional scene and helped me get an opportunity with the WEC which opened the doors to my UFC career,” Cerrone writes, “Now it’s my turn to find the next big thing.”
In Wisconsin, two fight promotions are providing fighters with a chance, and a stage, to shine: “Ogitchidaa Fight Promotions” founded by Chris Hicks and “Chosen Few” founded by Josh Sterry. Just last week, Sterry accompanied his fighter, Alex Gilpin, to the UFC Contender Series in which Gilpin won a rough fight.
Chris Hicks of Ogitchidaa also provides local level promotions for fighters to get exposure. Most fighters are in pursuit of a penniless MMA career, but Hicks has other ideas: “Not if I can help it.” Ogitchidaa means “warrior” in Ojibwe, a Native American language. Hicks’ vision is for a new promotion that allows fighters to showcase their talents and earn a reasonable wage; fighters receive 75% of the proceeds on their PPV sales.
Hicks’ next event is September 1 in Stevens Point, Wisconsin. You can watch live here. The event is guaranteed to be intense, even though the fighters are amateurs. “The last two events have been explosive,” says Hicks.
The Warrior Games, held in September, is the third show of Hicks’ tournament series. It will be shown on a new media platform where PPV views send money to fighters who need support. Make sure you tune-in September 1.
The rise in interest and investment is opening doors to the next generation of fighters, promoters, and brands. Investors now see the sport as profitable and are creating more outlets for fans and casual viewers. With more outlets, promotions will grow, ultimately giving young fighters hope for a bright future.
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