Today the Professional Fighters League (PFL), the fastest-growing and most innovative sports league, held the PFL Champions vs BELLATOR Champions press conference featuring athletes and CEO Peter Murray at the Hard Rock Live in Seminole Hard Rock Hollywood. Today’s press conference comes ahead of the mega-event on Saturday, February 24, from the state-of-the-art Kingdom Arena in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.
The PFL Champions vs BELLATOR Champions main event will see reigning PFL Heavyweight Champion Renan Ferreira (12-3) square off against BELLATOR Heavyweight Champion and former BELLATOR Light Heavyweight Champion Ryan Bader (31-7). Newly crowned PFL Light Heavyweight Champion Impa Kasanganay (15-3) returns to the middleweight division where he will meet BELLATOR Middleweight Champion Johnny Eblen (14-0).
Two-time PFL Welterweight Champion Ray Cooper III (25-9), who replaced Magomed Magomedkerimov, will collide with Jamaica’s fighting pride, BELLATOR Welterweight Champion Jason Jackson (17-4). PFL Featherweight Champion Jesus Pinedo (23-6-1), the first Peruvian MMA world champion returns to action against reigning BELLATOR Featherweight Champion and former BELLATOR Lightweight Champion Patricio Pitbull (35-7).
Additionally the Pay-Per-View will feature former PFL Heavyweight Champion Bruno Cappelozza (15-6) and former BELLATOR Light Heavyweight Champion Vadim Nemkov (17-2). Two of the sport’s most iconic names will meet in the PFL SmartCage as former title challengers Thiago Santos (22-11) and Yoel Romero (15-7) clash. 2023 PFL Lightweight Championship finalist Clay Collard (24-11) is set to face former BELLATOR Featherweight Champion AJ McKee (21-1).
“There’s a lot of hardware up here. We have PFL Champs versus BELLATOR Champs. This is really an unprecedented event in MMA. Many fans have been talking about this for years. Other promotions have been talking about this as well. I am so proud that on the heels of the BELLATOR acquisition we can now present the very best in MMA - said Peter Murray, CEO, PFL. At the end of each year, we will kick off the next season for both PFL and BELLATOR, a major tentpole event which will be PFL Champions vs. BELLATOR Champions. Think of it as MMA’s All-Star Game. This will be long term. We’re certainly paving the way for the next generation of great athletes and champions.”- he added.
Renan Ferraira: PFL Heavyweight Champion commented: “It’s a special moment for the fans and a special moment for the sport. I feel honored to be in the position as the main event to fight against a guy with the credentials that Ryan Bader has. Just excited to get there. You guys know my fighting style, always pressing the action and moving forward. So just excited to put on a great show.
“I’ve been following Bader’s career for a very long time. I’ve watched his fights live. I think he’s a great athlete and his wrestling credentials speak for themself. It’s just a great honor to be facing off against him."
On a potential fight with Frances Ngannou: “I feel like it’s undeniable. If everything goes as planned, yeah, after February 24th Frances is the name. That being said, I’ll do it however he wants to do it. If he wants to do it in MMA, in boxing, we’ll be ready.”
Ryan Bader: BELLATOR Heavyweight Champion and the main event of this historic fight said: “It’s a huge deal. This doesn’t happen in MMA. Fans want these types of super fights. A lot of organizations don’t want to risk putting their champions out there and have another organization come out and sweep them. I love that we are doing this in Saudi Arabia. The whole card, if you look at it, is stacked. I am ready to claim another belt too. I love it and I’m ready for this huge opportunity.”
On what he expects from Ferreira “I have 40-something fights, he has quite a bit less. I’ve been in this game a long time. I’ve stood across from everyone including champions, former champions, and legends of the sport. I’ve been fighting five-round fights for as long as I could remember so I’m proven in that aspect. He’s an amazing fighter and he’s huge. He’s fun to watch. It’s one of those challenges where I need to go in there and dictate what I do. I believe I have the tools. He’s a giant man who will be swinging hard so you never know what will happen.”