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PFL Founder Donn Davis Defends Promotion Amidst Criticism from Bellator Fighters


PFL Founder Donn Davis remains positive despite the criticism
PFL Founder Donn Davis

Despite recent criticism, Donn Davis, founder and chairman of the PFL, asserts that his promotion remains committed to a fighter-first approach. Davis recently addressed complaints publicly raised by fighters regarding their treatment under the PFL banner.


Last year, the PFL acquired Bellator MMA to establish itself as a "co-leader" in mixed martial arts alongside the UFC. Since then, the PFL has launched its first PFL vs. Bellator card, started global and regional seasons, and introduced the Bellator Champions Series. However, 2024 has seen several fighters express dissatisfaction with the organization.


PFL executives frequently emphasize their commitment to being a superior alternative to the UFC with a "fighter-first" philosophy. However, fighters like Sabah Homasi, Cris Cyborg, Gegard Mousasi, and Douglas Lima have voiced their frustrations. Homasi complained about unpaid medical expenses from a fight last September, while Cyborg criticized the PFL for not booking her. Mousasi and Lima alleged that the PFL is sidelining them due to their high earnings.


In response, Davis defended the PFL's practices during a recent appearance on the "Weighing In" podcast with John McCarthy and Josh Thomson. He reiterated that the PFL strives to be "direct, fair, and reasonable" in all its dealings.


"I would say two things. One: what I'm super proud of is, the market — and anyone you talk to; fighters, business partners, media, managers — we're direct, fair, and reasonable 100 percent," Davis stated. "That's my 35 years in business. That's the culture we've built here. So I will say, without commenting out of respect on individual negotiations or specific situations, we're direct, fair, and reasonable with everybody that we deal with."


Davis acknowledged that the PFL cannot cater to every fighter's demands but emphasized the organization's commitment to fairness.


"Will everybody's contract be honored? Of course. Do some people have different ideas of what works and doesn't work? Sure. But we're fair and reasonable with everybody. Will all 205 fighters have everything fall the way they want? No."


When asked specifically about the futures of Mousasi and Lima, Davis declined to provide details.


"I wouldn't comment on any specific situation," Davis said.


Dissatisfaction with the PFL extends beyond former Bellator fighters. Larissa Pacheco, last year's PFL women's featherweight champion, also expressed frustration over her prolonged wait for a fight. Contrary to Davis' claims of direct communication, Pacheco recently complained about the lack of communication from the PFL since her last fight six months ago.


Additionally, Davis made a critical remark about Kayla Harrison's departure to the UFC, calling her a "follower who needs validation." Harrison had been vocal about the PFL's delay in booking her return, which left her sidelined for a year before her final PFL fight in November 2023.

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