Tyson to award belts to PFL vs. Bellator winners

Mike Tyson will present three winners a custom championship belt Saturday at the PFL vs. Bellator: Champs card in Saudi Arabia, PFL chairman Donn Davis told ESPN on Wednesday.

Tyson will be in attendance for the event in Riyadh, which will pit some of the best fighters from PFL against some of the best from Bellator, including three bouts involving champions from each promotion. Tyson will award the winners of the top three fights the specially made Champion of Champions title belt.

“I called Mike two weeks ago, because I thought there was nobody more fitting to award the first ever in combat sports belt that goes to a champion beating a champion than the greatest champion of all time in Mike Tyson,” Davis said.

PFL acquired Bellator in late 2023, and this is the first event that will have fighters from both promotions competing against one another.

“I’m really looking forward to this because this is the unification of the two champions of different divisions and different organizations,” Tyson told ESPN.

In the main event, PFL heavyweight champion Renan Ferreira will face Bellator heavyweight champ Ryan Bader. The winner, Davis said, would lead the sweepstakes to be Francis Ngannou‘s next MMA opponent in PFL.

Ngannou, the former UFC heavyweight champion who is coming off a boxing match against Tyson Fury, is slated to box Anthony Joshua on March 8 in Saudi Arabia. Davis said Ngannou will be cageside Saturday to watch the PFL vs. Bellator card.

“We think if there is a great showing in this heavyweight bout, they’ve earned the shot and Francis would accept that shot,” Davis said.

Bellator middleweight champion Johnny Eblen will face reigning PFL light heavyweight champion Impa Kasanganay in the middleweight co-main event. The other winner who will get a Champion of Champions belt will come from a featherweight matchup between Bellator 145-pound champion Patricio “Pitbull” Freire and Gabriel Braga, PFL’s featherweight runner-up in 2023. Freire’s original opponent, PFL featherweight champ Jesus Pinedo, was forced out of the fight due to injury last week.

The Champion of Champions belt has a ring fastened in the front of it that the winners can take off and wear, much like champions in other sports. The idea was a collaboration between Davis, PFL CEO Pete Murray and Ngannou, Davis said.

“What we saw was other athletes who won championships could wear their ring,” Davis said. “I win the NFL, I get my ring from the Super Bowl. I win the World Series, I get my ring. And fighters, they can’t always take their belts out. You can’t just walk around with your belt.”

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