Hattan Alsaif, a 22-year-old Muay Thai champion from Saudi Arabia, has become the first woman from her country to sign a contract with a global mixed martial arts (MMA) promotion.
The Professional Fighters League (PFL) announced on Tuesday the historic signing of Alsaif to an exclusive, multi-fight deal. Alsaif will make her amateur MMA debut for the PFL in 2024.
Alsaif won the gold medal at the 2023 International Federation of Muay Thai Associations World Championships, where she was also awarded “Breakthrough Female Athlete.” She continued her dominance by taking first place at the World Combat Games and at the Saudi Games, the largest sporting event in the Kingdom.
“Receiving a contract from the PFL is a dream come true,” Alsaif said in a statement. “As the first Saudi woman signed to a global MMA contract I do not take the responsibility lightly, and I am committed to representing my country. I hope to pave the way for aspiring female fighters. I am thankful to God and the PFL for this incredible opportunity.”
Alsaif’s signing is a milestone for women’s MMA in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region, where the sport is still developing and facing cultural and social barriers. Alsaif is one of the few female fighters who train and compete in Saudi Arabia, a conservative Islamic monarchy that has only recently relaxed some of its restrictions on women’s rights and participation in sports.
Ray Sefo, President of Fighter Operations of PFL, said he was thrilled to welcome Alsaif, a truly groundbreaking athlete, to the league. “In collaboration with our partner, SRJ Sports, PFL is dedicated to discovering exceptional fighters like Alsaif and championing the cause of women in MMA in the region. Our goal is to provide them with a global platform to showcase their skill sets.”
Alsaif will train predominantly with Abdullah Al-Qahtani, a fellow Saudi fighter who competes in the PFL Champions vs. Bellator Champions series, a cross-promotional event that features some of the best MMA fighters in the world. Alsaif will also have access to the PFL’s state-of-the-art technology and data analytics, which help fighters optimize their performance and strategy.
The signing of Alsaif bolsters a roster that will have opportunities to compete in PFL MENA, PFL’s second regional league outside of the United States. The disruptive model will provide top fighters from across the MENA region with the opportunity to earn their way to the PFL Global Roster, where they can vie for the coveted PFL Championship and a $1 million prize.
The 2024 PFL season will feature six weight classes and 72 fighters, who will compete in 10 events throughout the year. On February 24, 2024, the league makes its Saudi Arabia debut with PFL Vs Bellator Champions PPV.