You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

MMA Upstart Professional Fighters League Hires Fox Sports Veteran George Greenberg (EXCLUSIVE)

Will Blair, former WME/IMG exec, joins league as head of sponsorship and revenue partnerships

The Professional Fighters League, which is trying to land a bigger punch in the mixed-martial arts world, has hired veteran TV sports executive George Greenberg to oversee broadcast production.

Greenberg spent 23 years at Fox Sports and Fox Broadcasting. Most recently he was executive VP of content integration and presentation, overseeing content integration flow within all Fox Sports 1 and Fox Sports 2 programs, and supervising UFC production efforts, Fox studio directors, and Premier Boxing Championships.

The PFL also has hired Will Blair, formerly senior VP of partnership development at WME/IMG, as EVP of sponsorship and revenue partnerships.

“As the Professional Fighters League charges ahead toward our January debut, we are adding elite leadership to our already outstanding staff,” said Carlos Silva, president of business operations and event production.

The PFL was co-founded by hedge-fund manager Russ Ramsey, along with VC investors Donn Davis and Mark Leschly. Based in Washington, D.C., the Professional Fighters League purchased the operations and event infrastructure of the World Series of Fighting (WSOF) in January 2017 and currently has over 100 pro MMA fighters under exclusive contract. The league plans to kick off its inaugural season in January 2018, with 84 fighters in seven weight classes and a post-season prize purse totaling $10 million.

Currently, the PFL has a TV deal with NBCUniversal’s NBCSN through December 2017. The league is in negotiations with potential broadcast partners for 2018 and beyond.

In 1994, Greenberg was part of the team that launched Fox Sports and during his career has overseen conception and production of Fox and Fox Sports broadcasts of the NFL, MLB and NHL. Prior to that, he was a producer and director at ABC Sports, where he worked on broadcasts of Summer and Winter Olympic Games in 1984 and the Winter Games in 1988.

“George is a pioneer in television sports production, having created revolutionary concepts that are now standard TV practice,” Silva said in announcing his hire. “His addition to the Professional Fighters League as Executive Producer means MMA fans can expect an innovative, accessible, and compelling product for 2018 unlike anything they’ve ever seen before.”

The PFL is betting on several factors to stand out from UFC — the MMA sector’s heavyweight, which WME/IMG bought last year for $4 billion — and others like Bellator MMA. For starters, the Professional Fighters League is structured as a true league with a playoff format that lets fighters advance based on their win record: “The athletes are in control of their destiny,” Greenberg said.

Greenberg, who is based in L.A., also sees the opportunity to lead with storytelling about the league’s roster of fighters. “What is most important is going to be our television presentation, the stories we tell,” he said. “Without the backstories of these incredible athletes, you just have a bunch of robots fighting.”

And, according to Greenberg, the PFL will deliver a unique, interactive experience across TV and mobile devices that integrates social and data analytics features. “For me it’s a wonderful opportunity to define what this brand and viewer and user experience will be,” he said. “The PFL is going to allow us to make a visual statement — with camera placement, use of graphics, our cross-platform strategy, and the talent we hire.”

Blair, meanwhile, joins the PFL to lead all sales sponsorships and revenue partnerships. At WME/IMG, he represented the firm’s sports and entertainment portfolio to brand marketers in major relationships, and previously worked for over a decade at Turner Sports. He also is a former football scholarship athlete who holds a bachelor’s degree from Wake Forest University. “The Professional Fighters League has the vision and product that is ideal for forging game-changing partnerships with major brands and companies,” he said in a statement.

Watch the PFL’s announcement from April about the formation of the league:

More TV

  • Stephen Moore

    Stephen Moore, 'Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy' Android, 'Doctor Who' Actor, Dies at 81

    Stephen Moore, best known for his roles as the paranoid android Marvin in “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” radio series and the Silurian Eldane in “Doctor Who,” has died. He was 81. “The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy” producer Dirk Maggs confirmed Moore’s death Sturday on Twitter, writing, “Our dear friend Stephen Moore has [...]

  • Baghdad-Central-Image

    Fremantle, Hulu Bringing 'Baghdad Central' to United States

    Fremantle is partnering with Hulu to bring the UK drama “Baghdad Central” to the United States, Fremantle announced Monday. The latest in Hulu’s growing slate of international content, “Baghdad Central” will launch on Channel 4 in the United Kingdom and stream on Hulu in 2020. Based on the novel by Elliott Colla, the six-part drama [...]

  • Endemol Shine, China’s Hunan TV Duet

    Endemol Shine, China’s Hunan TV Duet on ‘Sing or Spin’ (EXCLUSIVE)

    Global production and distribution giant Endemol Shine is to duet with leading Chinese producer and broadcaster Hunan TV on primetime entertainment format “Sing or Spin,” which has an innovative spin: a revolving stage that lets singers know how well they are scoring. The show has been co-developed by Endemol Shine China and Hunan TV as [...]

  • 'Succession': Nicholas Braun, Matthew Macfadyen on

    'Succession' Stars Nicholas Braun, Matthew Macfadyen Break Down How To Make a Tomelette

    You can’t make a Tomelette without breaking some Greggs, and you can’t get through an episode of ‘Succession’ without a few rounds of riffing, at least according to Nicholas Braun (who plays Greg Hirsch) and Matthew Macfadyen (who portrays Tom Wamsgans). “We basically improv in probably every scene to some capacity,” says Braun. Though the [...]

  • Manchester City Football Club Animated Series

    Manchester City Soccer Team Animated Series in the Works (EXCLUSIVE)

    “Sky Blue Academy,” an animated series set inside the training academy of reigning English Premier League champions Manchester City, is in the works, Variety has learned. The Pep Guardiola-managed team has enjoyed numerous successes in recent years and broken into world soccer’s elite, becoming a global brand in the process. The show will follow a [...]


    TV Review: 'Living with Yourself'

    Paul Rudd is such a naturally ebullient actor that it can be startling to see him ground down. A gifted physical performer who, at 50, looks so youthful that his appearance tends to precede all other attributes when he’s discussed, Rudd also still has the verve and energy of a rising star — a quality [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content