X – Turki Alalshikh

Saudi Arabia owns part of PFL and now works with UFC. Could GeA head Turki Alalshikh persuade the UFC to co-promote a Jones vs. Ngannou superfight?

If there’s one thing we’ve learned in the sporting world over the past few years, it’s that anything can happen when Saudi Arabia gets involved.

The Kingdom has made a splash in soccer, golf, and boxing. Will they do the same in MMA now that there is a growing partnership between UFC and General Entertainment Authority head Turki Alalshikh? Alalshikh’s greatest accomplishment in boxing has been to break down walls between promoters, allowing the biggest fights to be made.

With Saudi Arabia owning a minority equity ownership stake in PFL, Turki has the clout to do the same for a Francis Ngannou vs. P4P great Jon Jones superfight. UFC CEO Dana White was asked about the idea during the UFC 303 post-fight press conference, and shockingly enough, he didn’t shoot the idea down.

“I know it’s something you’ve traditionally been very much against, but could Riyadh Season compel you to cross promote?” a media member asked. “Obviously, there’s that Francis Ngannou fight that you think is not gonna happen, is there anything Riyadh could do to maybe twist your arm on that?”

“I actually respect Turki Alalshikh, he’s a nice guy and we have actually formed a relationship over the last couple of months,” White replied. “I respect what he’s done with boxing. He is the only guy that could ever pull this off in making these big fights. And the fights are good. You didn’t have guys that went in there and tried to avoid a fight so they could get to the next big payday.”

“I think that what this guy has done in a short amount of time is pretty incredible. So we’re obviously talking about lots of different options with this guy. And I respect him. I like him. So we’ll see what the future holds.”

On one hand, White didn’t dismiss the idea outright. On the other, that’s a pretty non-commital answer. The UFC has let Alalshikh share his big dreams of a massive 30,000 person event in Riyadh, only to confirm later that their current deal is for UFC Fight Nights only. Thus far the biggest thing UFC has done is let Saudi Arabia underwrite Sphere expenses by sponsoring Riyadh Season Noche UFC.

But Saudi money is undoubtedly there for a Francis Ngannou vs. Jon Jones fight, and White could be down for it if he feels like it would punk the PFL. First Jones will have to recover from injuries and get past Stipe Miocic, which is a fight that’s not expected to happen until the end of 2024. So whatever is going to happen, it’s not going to happen for a while.

Author: Staff

Please go to MMAMania.com to read full article.

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