Per Ariel Helwani, a new MMA promotion called World Fight League is teasing a potential shakeup to the MMA business model in 2023.
Per MMA Fighting’s Ariel Helwani, a new promotion backed by several stars across sports and entertainment is currently in the works for a debut in 2023, and is teasing a potential change up to the established business model of MMA. On Friday, Helwani reported several more details after briefly touching upon the news on Substack earlier in the week.
The appeal of the World Fight League, as it is planned to be called, is that it is looking to operate similar to the NBA, NFL, and other major leagues in that it will consist of an athlete association with a collective bargaining agreement and roughly a 50/50 revenue split with their athletes. Further details revealed that the promotion would also provide health insurance, career-ending insurance plans, and a pension plan for athletes.
Additionally, the format will resemble professional basketball and football as opposed to a traditional MMA promotion. There will be multiple teams across four conferences, with the conferences being based in North America, South America, Europe/Africa, and Asia/Oceana respectively. Teams will challenge each other in a home and away format for each event as the fighters compete to get their teams to the playoffs. Each conference will have no less than 8 teams and no more than 24. Each team will have 24 fighters, with three fighters in each weight class. Fighters can be signed to each team through a draft or free agency exactly like other sports. Each team will be run by a franchise owner.
Helwani further reported that the group behind the league consists of several high profile individuals including former MMA champions and promoters as well as athletes, actors, and recording artists. The idea for the WFL was originally conceived in 2020 while the idea to make it a nonprofit (the league, not the franchises) came about in 2021.
Currently, there are six approved franchise owners with four in the United States and two in Canada. The plan is to launch the league in the United States but the report states that the fundamentals are in place to launch the league worldwide. Each conference will be launched when there are eight established team owners.
Further information is expected to be revealed in the near future.