Sports Strength

Everything You Need To Know About Professional Fighters League

For a long while, even if you were more than just a casual MMA fan, all you’d really need to watch to keep up with the main news in the sport was the UFC and some bigger Bellator cards. Thankfully, that hasn’t been the case for a little while. Some other promotions have been making a name for themselves and putting themselves on the map in terms of being a product worth checking out in the MMA space, which the UFC basically monopolizes.

One of those promotions is the PFL (Professional Fighters League).

A Brief History Of The PFL

Technically, the PFL was founded only in 2018, but its actual history certainly runs deeper than that. Professional Fighters League is actually a reiteration of the World Series of Fighting (WSOF), a promotion that fans who have been around since the early 2010s might remember. Although they ultimately needed a rebranding, they did help bring us great names like former UFC title contender Marlon Moraes, former UFC interim champion Justin Gaethje and they even helped Anthony Johnson make his way back to the UFC. While those kinds of names going to the UFC is something fans with no ties to specific promotions can appreciate, to have your biggest names jump ship isn’t the best for any organization.

In 2017, a controlling stake in the promotion was acquired by MMAX Investing Partners, who now own the promotion. They accepted it needed an overhaul. Thus, the PFL was born. Peter Murray filled its CEO position, and its President remained the same, K-1 veteran Ray Sefo.

Last summer, the organization was looking for a $50 million investment to help with international expansion. When the news became public, their Chairman Donn Davis stated that the PFL was worth $300 million and had raised $105 million since it was founded two years prior.

How Does the PFL Regular Season Work?

The PFL has differentiated itself from every other MMA promotion around, big or small, with its seasonal format. It’s similar to brackets in other sports and while its application to MMA has been tricky, it’s executed well here.

During the season, each fighter competes twice. Just like in soccer, a victory is worth three points, and a draw is worth one. Unlike in soccer, the quicker you defeat your opponent, the more points you get. A first-round win gets you an additional three points, a second-round finish gets you two additional points, and a third-round finish gets you one additional point. If a fight is ruled a no-contest, each fighter in the contest receives one point, and if a fighter cannot compete, their opponent is treated as the winner of a decision, getting three points.

In the 2021 season, which is currently taking place, four fighters in each weight division will advance to the playoffs.

How Do The PFL Playoffs Work?

Like the NBA functions, fighters are given a seed based on their points in the regular season. Since four fighters in each division advance to the playoffs, the #1 seed fighters the #4 seed in one semi-finals matchup and, of course in the other, the #2 and #3 seed fight. Just like the regular season, these are three-round bouts.

The winners of each semi-finals fight will fight each other over five, five-minute rounds at a championship event in New York. The winner of each fight will be the winner in their weight division and along with a prestigious PFL title, they will receive a massive $1 million. That grand prize is exactly the kind of thing that has attracted fighters like former Bellator champion Rory MacDonald and former UFC champs Anthony Pettis and Fabricio Werdum to the organization.

PFL Weight Classes

The PFL has just six weight divisions. The five men’s divisions are Featherweight (145lbs), Lightweight (155lbs), Welterweight (170lbs), Light Heavyweight (205lbs) and Heavyweight (up to 265lbs). The sole women’s division is their Lightweight division. Each weight class holds ten fighters.

How Is The PFL Different To The UFC?

The PFL differs from every other MMA promotion in the world with its seasonal format, but there are also specific ways that it sets itself apart from the UFC. One of those is their main rule that elbows are not allowed, which may seem strange to fans. PFL commentator and veteran Yves Edwards explains that elbows often cause cuts, which is a problem when it comes to the company’s seasonal format.

“If you get cut this week and you can’t fight five weeks from now because of a suspension, that’s going to be a problem,” he told MMA Junkie. “We just want to eliminate as many things as possible to keep guys that are earning their shot to keep them having the opportunity to earn that $1 million.”

Where To Watch The PFL

In the States, PFL main cards air on ESPN 2 and ESPN Deportes at 9 PM EST. The preliminary bouts take place on ESPN+ at 5:30 PM EST. For a full list of how you can watch the PFL outside of the U.S., check this out. 

Sports Strength

Anthony Pettis on His PFL Debut, Stupid Spending, and Boxing

Fighter Anthony Pettis returned to “In The Fight With Bo Templin” this week ahead of his Professional Fighter’s League debut on Friday, April 23rd. Pettis takes on Clay Collard in the main event on ESPN 2.

Pettis came on “In The Fight” back in December before his fight with Alex Morono and he had been going through a transitional phase of his life. He knew his contract with the UFC would expire after the fight. He had just started his new business venture, “Showtime Entertainment Group.” And he had become devoted to a sober lifestyle and committed to seeing a sports psychologist.

In this episode, we checked in on all of those topics.

Anthony’s mind seems clear as ever. He is embracing the challenges of being the face of a newer fighting promotion and is trying to be grateful of every opportunity.

Templin: “How do you balance the entertainment side of media week while remaining focused on the fight?”

Pettis: “Great question, man. Gratitude. I’m here 17 days. I could find a million things wrong… but if you practice gratitude, it changes your mindset. I’m blessed to be in this position. I’m blessed to be the face of the PFL. I get to do these interviews, I don’t have to do these interviews.”

Check out the full interview above, and be sure to follow Pettis on Instagram and Twitter.