The Professional Fighters League (PFL) shares a lot in common with the UFC, and just about anyone you talk to within the organization will say there’s plenty of global audience up for grabs in MMA. But the PFL does stand out among all the other companies that wish to rival the UFC someday as the premier MMA promotional company on the planet. In his chat with Heavy, former UFC star and current PFL commentator Kenny Florian hit the nail right on the head about the PFL offers fight fans that the UFC does not.
“People love tournaments,” Florian said. “People love seeing teams or individuals fight each other and move up the bracket to get to that championship round.”
UFC Originally Used Tournament Format
UFC 1 was a tournament, and much of the old-school MMA promoters around at the time back then used that same format to crown champions. But the UFC has adopted a single promotion-based approach in the modern era, so there hasn’t been a tourney within that company for nearly 30 years now.
A new PFL season begins on April 23. There are six weight classes with 10 fighters in each division, and the fighters compete in a regular season, a playoff format, and the championship final round that crowns a world champ for each division.
It’s like March Madness or the NFL playoffs but for MMA instead. It’s also what MMA used to be.
“I’m very excited,” Florian said. “You know, I think anytime you invite that kind of tournament-style format into mixed martial arts, it kind of brings back that kind of martial arts spirit, for me anyway. I think that the PFL this season really is committed to bringing the best, absolute best fighters, they can find.”
PFL Made Major Moves for 2021 Season
Before the upcoming season, PFL signed former WEC and UFC lightweight champion Anthony Pettis, former UFC heavyweight champion Fabricio Werdum, former Bellator MMA welterweight champion Rory MacDonald and superstar boxing champ Claressa Shields.
That stalwart list was added to an already impressive line-up of returning PFL champions, most notably PFL women’s lightweight champ Kayla Harrison, to form one of the most tantalizing rosters of talent in the sport.
Add to the mix that the PFL enjoys the same television partner as the UFC in ESPN, and is easily already the only MMA promoter around who can rival the UFC’s important but overlooked public relations and digital media staffs, and you have a company that really could one day stand on level ground with Dana White’s group.
Florian: ‘PFL Does Something Very Different
Florian believes the PFL is on its way to competing with the UFC.
“I really do,” Florian said. “Listen, I think that there’s space for different organizations in mixed martial arts, and also I think that the PFL does something very different than the UFC. So I think they have their own little niche in that aspect.”
Florian said its tournament format helps the company stand on its own two feet, and he sees the company continuing to grow into becoming the UFC’s biggest rival.
“I think the PFL offers that to everyone who loves to see that,” Floridan said. “I think that’s what really separates it from other organizations like the UFC. I think that both are different, and I think there’s enough room for them. But I think the PFL, both globally and nationally, is really growing so fast.
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