New Year’s Eve revelers packed Times Square last month, jockeying for position to see the ball drop and music acts take the stage. Ten blocks south at the Hulu Theater in Madison Square Garden, a different kind of clash was simultaneously taking place: It was championship fight night for an upstart mixed martial arts entity, the Professional Fighters League. A half-dozen champions in different weight classes were crowned, with boxing great Mike Tyson delivering oversized checks in the ring to each winner.
The PFL owners will be dishing out more big checks for years to come thanks to a new infusion of cash in the business. The league closed a $50 million Series C funding round on Christmas Eve; it brings the PFL’s total funding to $100 million.
Tyson will be a bigger presence in the PFL. “Mike is going to help recruit and sharpen the marketing of some of our new fighters,” says PFL cofounder Donn Davis. “No one knows what it is like to be a champion more than Mike Tyson—how to become one and the pitfalls of being one, financially, emotionally and psychologically.”