TKO Executives Embrace The Competition Posed By The PFL

TKO Group Holdings, Inc, has reacted to the rise in competition within the MMA sphere following their recent revenue disclosures. 

As we have reported previously, TKO Group Holdings, Inc, made the first release of its revenue figures following the recent merger between the WWE and the UFC. The figures, which were given to the Securities and Exchange Commission, revealed that the UFC generated $611.9 million in the first half of 2023. Meanwhile, the WWE created a revenue of $707.9 million in the same time period. 

The increased revenue was significant in light of the rise of the PFL. The organization has attracted some of the biggest talent around, as shown by their signings of Jake Paul and the former UFC heavyweight champion Francis Ngannou. In addition, reports have also stated that the PFL have acquired Bellator as a sale will go through in 2024. And on top of that, the PFL’s investment of $100 million plus from the Saudi Arabia Public Investment Fund via SRJ Sports Investment has made them a credible rival to the UFC. However, Ari Emanuel (CEO of TKO) welcomed the rivalry as a positive thing. 

“Competition’s not new for the UFC or the WWE. MMA is probably the fastest growing sport and we’re encouraged by the interest. Rising tides lift all boats, in my opinion. We don’t see it as a zero sum game. Not only do we have competition with other MMA or wrestling organizations — football, college football, there’s a lot of competition out there,” Emanuel 

Those comments were backed up by Mark Shapiro (President of TKO), who dismissed any concerns posed by the PFL’s deal with ESPN. The network also happens to broadcast UFC fights, which may be seen as impacting the organization’s brand. And yet, Shapiro was confident in the brand’s ability to provide the best MMA fights around. 

“Competition is good.Not only do we have over 600 fighters, we have the premiere fighters. Ultimately you’re trying to get to the UFC, which is akin to the XFL trying to ultimately get their players into the NFL. That’s what we are. Those are pipeline and feeder properties. In fact, we’re supportive of [PFL] being on ESPN. PFL’s been on ESPN. We were totally supportive of that deal and the Saudi experience should prove out well for us,” Shapiro


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