Donn Davis’ Innovation and Grit has turned PFL into the Fastest Growing Sports League

What sets the Professional Fighters League apart from other mixed martial arts outfits is the league’s unique approach to presenting the sport of MMA.

While other companies rely on a promotion-style format, which means that matchmakers ultimately determine fights. The PFL on the other hand makes use of a true sports-style season, which features an elimination round, playoffs, and finals. At the end of each season, six fighters are crowned as champions and awarded a million-dollar purse.

The PFL was officially founded in 2018, and in just three years, the league has already enjoyed unparalleled growth and success, and captured the second-largest market share in MMA, alongside the UFC, the widely-regarded industry leader.

But while the PFL’s success banks largely on their one-of-a-kind format and their world-class roster of fighters, their steps in innovating the sport of MMA is also a huge factor. For that, they have league founder and chairman Donn Davis to thank.

A veteran of the sports, entertainment, and tech world, Davis’s highly impressive resumé includes stints with the Chicago Cubs, AOL, and Time Warner, among other big-name corporations. Davis also founded Revolution and came on as a minority owner for Team Liquid, one of the biggest eSports franchises in the world.

Davis has a track record of putting up ‘disruptive’ companies, and he’s in essence done the same with the PFL.

“Our philosophy at the Professional Fighters League is: what would be interesting to viewers [and] what would be interesting to fans? We don’t do innovation and technology for innovation and technology’s sake. We focus on the fans. We focus on the viewers,” Davis said in an interview with back in 2020.

Davis also identified access and choice as main points in their steps in innovation.

In terms of access, the PFL has rolled out a number of executions that simply bring the fans and viewers closer to the action:

“We provide fans all-access to fighters and to what’s going on inside the cage. We’ve given everything from a ref cam, where you can see knockouts from up close, to a corner cam, where you can hear in between rounds the strategy, to the SmartCage, where you see real-time analytics of strike speeds and heart rates of that fight. So, the first kind of innovation we’ve really done is access. ‘What is going on in this fight?’ Viewers can see it from the inside,” Davis explained.

The SmartCage has also opened the doors for the league to form betting partnerships with the likes of DraftKings and BetMGM, giving fans a different way to enjoy the league.

Davis also shared how the league has let their viewers experience the league how they want it:

“The second thing we’ve really been able to do is choice. We’ve given fans choice. And that kind of choice we’ve been able to give them is on the PFL app next year: you choose your camera angle. How do you want to view this fight? On the PFL app next year, you choose your language. You can choose from six different languages,” Davis said.

With the PFL being a massive global stage seen over 160 countries worldwide, choices and options have been a game-changer.

With the PFL heading to the conclusion of a widely successful 2021 season, the PFL has definitely lived up to their claim of being the fastest-growing sports league in the world.

By the time the 2022 season comes around, expect the league to be an even bigger and player than it is today.



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