Professional Fighters League

  (Redirected from World Series of Fighting)

The Professional Fighters League (PFL) is an American mixed martial arts league founded in 2018, following the acquisition and restructuring of the former World Series of Fighting (WSOF) promotion in 2017 by MMAX Investment Partners.[3][4] It is the first major MMA organization in which individual athletes compete in a regular season, post-season and championship, rather than on a year-round basis.[5]

Professional Fighters League
Current season, competition or edition:
Current sports event PFL (2022 season)
Professional Fighters League Primary Logo.jpg
SportMixed martial arts
Founded2018; 4 years ago (2018)
FounderDonn Davis[1]
Owner(s)PFL MMA, Inc.
CEOPeter Murray[2]
CountryUnited States
TV partner(s)ESPN
Official websitepflmma.com

The PFL currently puts on fights across six weight-divisions: featherweight, women's lightweight, lightweight, welterweight, light heavyweight and heavyweight.[6][7] The PFL's matches are held inside a 10-sided mixed martial arts cage known as the SmartCage, and adhere to the unified rules of mixed martial arts, with the exception of the prohibition of elbow strikes.[8][9]

The PFL's inaugural event took place on June 7, 2018 at the Hulu Theatre at Madison Square Garden in New York City, New York. At the end, each champion of the six weight classes won a championship prize of $1 million each.[10][11]

HistoryEdit

Restructuring and formationEdit

 
Professional Fighters League event in 2018

The World Series of Fighting (WSOF) was formed in 2012, after signing a broadcast deal with the NBC Sports Network. Soon after WSOF's first event was announced, it would be confirmed that Bas Rutten and Michael Schiavello would serve as commentators.[12] The WSOF held over 35 events in multiple countries including the United States, Canada, Japan, China and the Philippines,[13] and was best known for featuring fighters such as Justin Gaethje, Marlon Moraes and Lance Palmer.[14]

In 2017, MMAX Investment Partners, a group of McLean, Virginia investors, acquired a controlling stake in the WSOF.[15][16] It was announced that the WSOF would be restructured as the Professional Fighters League (PFL), with the inaugural season taking place in 2018.[17]

2020–presentEdit

Following a partnership with blockchain reward app Socios.com in October 2020, PFL launched a fan non-fungible token (NFT) and became the first sports league to launch such a token.[18][19]

In February 2021, PFL announced a $65 million financing round which expanded the total funding to $175 million. The funding round was led by Ares Capital, Elysian Park Ventures, and Knighthead Capital.[20][21][22][23]

In March 2021, PFL appointed Tim Clyne as Chief Financial Officer and Jon Werther as EVP Strategic Partnerships and New Business. Clyne oversees all financial activities and Werther leads international expansion efforts and new business initiatives.[24][25] Hall of Famer Ray Lewis would join the PFL athlete advisory board in the same month.[26][27]

In April 2021, former NFL running back Marshawn Lynch and rapper Wiz Khalifa both became PFL investors. Lynch joined the ownership group, while Khalifa serves as an advisor.[28][29][30][31] That same month, DraftKings was named the first official sportsbook and daily fantasy partner of the PFL. DraftKings would sponsor of the league's pre-fight shows and use their in-fighting technology and capturing real-time data for future prop bets.[32][33]

In August 2021, PFL announced a long-term partnership with Legends Hospitality, with the company purchasing a minority ownership stake.[34][35]

Fight format and point systemEdit

The PFL's matches are held inside a 10-sided mixed-martial arts cage known as the SmartCage, and adhere to the unified rules of mixed martial arts, with the exception of the prohibition of elbow strikes.[36][37]

A fighter who is overweight on the scale at weigh-ins will be deducted one point in the standings in the PFL's season structure and will be ineligible to win any points from that bout.

In 2021, PFL changed the playoff structure, the top four fighters per division after the regular season will make the playoffs, a number down from the eight who made the playoffs in men's divisions in previous seasons. The women's lightweight division will have the top four make the playoffs the way it did in 2019, the PFL's most recent season. The four athletes making the playoffs will advance directly to the semifinals in each division. There will be no quarterfinals, nor a situation where a fighter must win twice in a single night.[38] The point system consists of outcome-based scoring and bonuses for an early win. Under the outcome-based scoring system, the winner of a fight receives three points and the loser receives zero points. If the fight ends in a draw, both fighters will receive one point. The bonus for winning a fight by KO or submission in the first, second or third round is three points, two points and one point, respectively. For example, if a fighter wins a fight in the first round, the fighter will receive six total points.[39] A win by decision doesn't earn bonus points.

  • Win in any round automatically: 3 points
  • Bonus points for a finish (KO or submission)
    • Round 1: 3 points
    • Round 2: 2 points
    • Round 3: 1 point

PFL Challenger SeriesEdit

PFL Challenger Series is an American mixed martial arts series. Young and up-and-coming male and female MMA prospects will compete for a slot in the PFL tournament season and a chance at $1 million. Each week, the PFL Challenger Series will consist of a celebrity guest panel featuring personalities in film, athletics and music. Mike Tyson, along with NFL stars Ray Lewis and Todd Gurley, are just a few of the names who will decide who gets a shot in the league.[40][41][42]

RosterEdit

For the 2018 season, the PFL roster included 72 fighters in six weight classes.[43] The 2019 roster includes 68 fighters in six weight classes, including a new Women's Lightweight division.[44][45]

ChampionsEdit

2018 World ChampionsEdit

Division Upper weight limit Champion Date
Heavyweight 265 lb (120 kg; 18.9 st) Philipe Lins December 31, 2018 (PFL 11)
Light Heavyweight 205 lb (93 kg; 14.6 st) Sean O'Connell December 31, 2018 (PFL 11)
Middleweight 185 lb (84 kg; 13.2 st) Louis Taylor December 31, 2018 (PFL 11)
Welterweight 170 lb (77 kg; 12 st) Magomed Magomedkerimov December 31, 2018 (PFL 11)
Lightweight 155 lb (70 kg; 11.1 st) Natan Schulte December 31, 2018 (PFL 11)
Featherweight 145 lb (66 kg; 10.5 st) Lance Palmer December 31, 2018 (PFL 11)

2019 World ChampionsEdit

Division Upper weight limit Champion Date
Heavyweight 265 lb (120 kg; 18.9 st) Ali Isayev December 31, 2019 (PFL 10)
Light Heavyweight 205 lb (93 kg; 14.6 st) Emiliano Sordi December 31, 2019 (PFL 10)
Welterweight 170 lb (77 kg; 12 st) Ray Cooper III December 31, 2019 (PFL 10)
Lightweight 155 lb (70 kg; 11.1 st) Natan Schulte (2) December 31, 2019 (PFL 10)
Featherweight 145 lb (66 kg; 10.5 st) Lance Palmer (2) December 31, 2019 (PFL 10)
Women's Lightweight 155 lb (70 kg; 11.1 st) Kayla Harrison December 31, 2019 (PFL 10)

2021 World ChampionsEdit

Division Upper weight limit Champion Date
Heavyweight 265 lb (120 kg; 18.9 st) Bruno Cappelozza October 27, 2021 (PFL 10)
Light Heavyweight 205 lb (93 kg; 14.6 st) Antônio Carlos Júnior October 27, 2021 (PFL 10)
Welterweight 170 lb (77 kg; 12 st) Ray Cooper III (2) October 27, 2021 (PFL 10)
Lightweight 155 lb (70 kg; 11.1 st) Raush Manfio October 27, 2021 (PFL 10)
Women's Lightweight 155 lb (70 kg; 11.1 st) Kayla Harrison (2) October 27, 2021 (PFL 10)
Featherweight 145 lb (66 kg; 10.5 st) Movlid Khaybulaev October 27, 2021 (PFL 10)

Fighter signingEdit

In November 2020, two-time Olympic gold medalist and #2 pound-for-pound women's boxer[46] Claressa Shields signed a three-year contract with the Professional Fighters League to compete in the women's lightweight division.[47] Shields plans to compete in both boxing and MMA.[48] In December 2020, former UFC lightweight champion Anthony Pettis joined the Professional Fighters League ahead of the 2021 regular season, departing from the UFC promotion where he fought for nearly a decade.[49]

EventsEdit

Scheduled eventsEdit

# Event Date Venue Location

Event historyEdit

2018Edit

The inaugural season had 72 fighters in six weight-classes, competing in seven regular season events on Thursday nights in June, July and August. The top eight in each weight-class faced off in bracket-style, single elimination playoff fights on Saturday nights in October. The PFL 2018 season concluded on December 31, 2018 with six championship bouts back-to-back with a $10 million prize pool.[50] The first season was headlined by a fight between Andre Harrison about Jumabieke Tuerxun and featured bouts in the featherweight and heavyweight divisions.[51][52]

In 2018, the seven regular-season events were held at the Hulu Theater at Madison Square Garden, the Chicago Theatre, GWU Smith Center, Nassau Coliseum and Ocean Resort Casino.[53] The playoff events was held at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center, the Long Beach Arena, and the St. Elizabeths East Entertainment and Sports Arena. The championship event was held at the Hulu Theater at Madison Square Garden.[54]

2019Edit

The PFL 2019 regular season consisted of six weight classes and six events spanning from May to August. Playoffs consisted of three events and the season culminates with the Championship Event on New Year's Eve 2019.

2020Edit

The PFL 2020 season was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.[55] As a measure to relieve the financial pressure of the athletes, the organization decided to hand out monthly stipends to the contracted fighters.[56] Reactions to the stipend were mixed, with fighter Lance Palmer complaining about the amount of the stipend and with fighter Natan Schulte applauding the monthly stipend. According to multiple fighters, the stipend was $1,000 per month.[57][58]

In September 2020, PFL introduced a new series called "Inside the Season," produced in partnership with the United States Marine Corp, that detailed the journey fighters go on through training, regular season, playoffs and championships. The series is narrated by actor John C. McGinley and airs on ESPNews.[59]

2021Edit

Two-time Olympic gold medalist and top pound-for-pound women's boxer Claressa Shields signed a three-year contract with the Professional Fighters League to compete in the Women's Lightweight division and former UFC lightweight champ Anthony Pettis who joined the Professional Fighters League ahead of the 2021 regular season.[60][61][62]

PFL's 2021 roster included 60 fighters competing across six weight classes. The late additions to the season were the welterweights Gleison Tibau, Alexey Kunchenko and Jason Ponet, featherweights Chris Wade and Anthony Dizy, women's lightweights Kaitlin Young and Taylor Guardado and light heavyweight Nick Roehrick.[63]

In December 2021, PFL announced a multi-year partnership for its new PFL Challenger Series with streaming television provider fuboTV on its Fubo Sports Network.[64] Set to debut in February 2022, the new event will see fighters competing for a chance to earn a PFL contract and will incorporate a celebrity judging panel, a fan vote, sports betting and gamification.[65]

BroadcastEdit

On January 29, 2018, the League announced it had reached a multi-platform distribution deal for the inaugural 2018 season with NBC Sports Group and Facebook.[66] Within the United States, NBC Sports Group established a live Thursday night PFL franchise, presenting seven regular-season live events in prime time exclusively on NBCSN beginning June 7, 2018, through the end of August 2018. Events televised by NBCSN also streamed on NBCSports.com and the NBC Sports app. All regular season events had encore telecasts on NBCSN later the same night. Outside the U.S., Facebook streamed up to six hours of live coverage for each event. Facebook also opened each event with a live 30-minute pre-fight show and closed each with a live 30-minute post-fight show. In the U.S., fans were able to watch the first three hours of undercard coverage of each event on Facebook prior to NBCSN's presentation of the main bouts.[67]

Beginning in February 2019, the PFL's events are broadcast by ESPN in the United States and TSN in Canada.[68] PFL events and playoff matches air on ESPN+ and ESPN2, with the Championship Event on New Year's Eve airing exclusively on ESPN2 and ESPN Deportes.[69][70]

The PFL international distribution is handled by combat sports rights distributor Fighting Spirit.[71] PFL airs on Claro Sports in Hispanic America, Combate in Brazil, MMA TV in the United Kingdom, MMA TV in Nordic countries, Match TV and Boets TV in Russia, JSBC in China, beIN Sports in the Middle East and Northern Africa, and ESPN in sub-Saharan Africa.

In August 2020, the PFL launched an over the top (OTT) platform via its mobile app. In October 2021, the PFL signed a distribution deal with sports media company Wave.tv.[72][73]

As of 2021, the PFL is broadcast in 160 countries, through media partners like ESPN in the United States, Globo in Brazil, Bild in Germany, RMC Sports in France, Eurosport in India, and Telesport in Russia.[74] In January 2022, it was announced that PFL and ESPN struck a multi-year contract extension for broadcasting rights in the United States.[75]

Broadcast teamEdit

PFL's 2018 broadcast team for live events and pre- and post-event shows included Randy Couture, Bas Rutten, Yves Edwards, Caroline Pearce and Todd Harris. Harris provided play-by-play while Couture provided color commentary. Rutten and Pearce conducted pre- and post-fight interviews and Edwards offered video breakdowns and fight analysis.[76]

The 2019 broadcast team for live events and pre- and post-event shows includes 2018 PFL light heavyweight champion Sean O'Conell, Randy Couture, Caroline Pearce and former UFC lightweight Yves Edwards, with former WWE ring announcer Lilian Garcia as in-cage announcer.[77][78]

The 2021 broadcast team includes Randy Couture,[79][80] Kenny Florian,[81] Sean O'Connell,[82] Lillian Garcia[83] and Chael Sonnen.[84]

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External linksEdit