The exclusive deal is focused on the new “PFL PPV Super Fights” division, with the viral video star, boxer, and promoter serving as its first signing.
Calendar year 2022 was quite a ride for the sport of mixed martial arts. While several organizations will inevitably plow their way into a new year fully content with sticking to the same old program, it’s worth tipping the cap to outfits like Bellator for its recent co-promoted fight card with Japan’s Rizin; and to the Professional Fighters League for continuing to explore an alternative season-based competitive structure and the implementation of analytics into its broadcasts.
On Thursday, the latter organization took another plunge very much meant to shake up the establishment: they have officially partnered with Jake Paul.
The deal with the YouTube star, boxer, and fight promoter comes with two distinct parts:
- Paul joins the organization’s pay-per-view division, “PFL PPV Super Fights,” as its first official signing
- He and business partner Nakisa Bidarian will work to recruit and develop talent for the division and promote its events
“I’ve proven myself in and out of the boxing ring and now I am going to do the same in MMA, and there is no limit to the positive impact I can make on the sport,” Paul said in the company’s official announcement. “I plan to enter the PFL SmartCage and once again show the world that 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.”
Paul continued, “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.”
As a vocal advocate for reforming the landscape of fighter pay in mixed martial arts, you can’t say that this Jake Paul PFL pact comes out of nowhere — the PPV Super Fights division has a standing policy to split 50% of all pay-per-view revenues with its participating athletes.
With fighter pay continuing to represent the single biggest elephant in the room for global MMA, this is no minor development. Whether you adore Paul’s antics or cringe at the very sight of the man or with each passing mention of his name, today is an intriguing day for the business of combat sports all the same.
(While we won’t attempt to predict the future here, we might just look back one day and say that this news was a primary catalyst for the eventual formation of the first-ever viable, successful labor union for MMA athletes.)
“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,” PFL Chairman and Founder Donn Davis said on the occasion. “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.”
Paul, who turns 26 on Jan. 17, has a 6-0 professional record as a boxer but has not participated in MMA. On Oct. 29, 2022, he defeated UFC Hall of Famer Anderson Silva by decision in eight rounds of boxing, adding to previous wins against retired mixed martial artists Tyron Woodley (twice) and Ben Askren.
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