There’s a lot to look forward to as the Professional Fighters League (PFL) gets ready for its 2021 season, which kicks off in April.
In just three short years, the PFL has evolved from an up-and-coming promotion into one of the industry’s biggest power players, just behind the UFC.
Much of the league’s success stems from its unique tournament-style format that features a regular season, playoffs, and finals. Each of the PFL’s six weight divisions has a respective tournament, and at the end, the last man or woman standing is crowned world champion, and earns a million-dollar purse.
As with any fight promotion, however, the league’s biggest attraction is its world-class roster of fighters. For the past two seasons, the PFL has managed to produce big stars and future household names such as PFL Women’s Lightweight World Champion Kayla Harrison, two-time PFL Featherweight Champion Lance Palmer, two-time PFL Lightweight Champion Natan Schulte, and PFL Welterweight Champion Ray Cooper III.
For the 2021 season however, the PFL will be adding a handful of big names and former world champions into the fold, making this upcoming season the league’s biggest yet.
In 2019, the PFL brought in one of the world’s best 170-pounders in Rory “The Red King” MacDonald. In 2021, MacDonald will finally make his long-awaited debut inside the PFL cage.
2020 proved to be a massive year for the PFL in terms of athlete signings, as they were able to add a number of up-and-coming stars, experienced veterans, and multiple-time world champions.
In October of 2020, the PFL announced the signing of eight elite mixed martial artists from all over the world, headlined by Brazilian UFC veteran Cezar “Mutante” Ferreira, and up-and-coming South Korean star Sung Bin “The Korean Falcon” Jo.
Later in the year, the PFL announced the acquisition of Brazilian heavyweight superstar Fabricio Werdum. Werdum is a former UFC Heavyweight Champion and a veteran of top promotions such as the UFC, Strikeforce, and Pride FC. Werdum holds wins over the likes of Cain Velasquez, Stipe Miocic, Fedor Emelianenko, and Antonio “Minotauro’”Nogueira.
Just a month later, another former world champion joined the PFL’s ranks, in the form of lightweight and welterweight star Anthony “Showtime” Pettis. Pettis is a former WEC and UFC champion, and owns wins over Benson Henderson, Gilbert Melendez, Charles Oliveira, Stephen Thompson, Donald Cerrone (twice) and many others.
All these names are expected to take part in the league’s 2021 season.
Perhaps the most intriguing and exciting addition to the PFL roster however, is three-division women’s boxing world champion Claressa Shields, who will be making her MMA debut with the league. Shields’s goal is to become the first person to simultaneously hold world championships in boxing and MMA. While Shields won’t be joining the 2021 tournaments, she will be competing in special attraction bouts, as she prepares to get ready for the 2022 PFL season.
The PFL is already considered one of the the fastest growing sports leagues in the world, and it comes as no surprise, especially with the level of talent that they were able to bring in in 2020.
With this much star power on its roster, 2021 is primed to be the league’s biggest year yet.