PROFESSIONAL FIGHTERS LEAGUE UNVEILS FIRST-EVER MMA WOMEN’S LIGHTWEIGHT DIVISION, CELEBRATES INTERNATIONAL WOMEN’S DAY
PFL Season Debuts May 9 on ESPN2, ESPN+, ESPN Deportes
Two-time US Olympic Judo Gold Medalist, Kayla Harrison, Anchors New Division in Pursuit of a World Title and $1 Million Dollar Prize
The Professional Fighters League (PFL), the first organization ever to present MMA in the sport-season format of Regular Season, Playoffs, and Championship today unveiled the roster for its Women’s Lightweight Division, the first women’s 155lb weight class in MMA.
The Women’s Lightweight Division is anchored by two-time U.S. Olympic Judo Gold Medalist Kayla Harrison, who was the first woman signed by the PFL and has built her MMA career fighting in the PFL. The division will feature eight elite fighters from around the world, competing for the first women’s title in PFL history, and vying for the same $1 million championship prize that the PFL men’s divisions earn.
“As we continue to elevate our roster and reimagine the sport, we are proud to introduce the first-ever women’s 155-pound division,” said Peter Murray, CEO, PFL. “These athletes are breaking down barriers every day, and through our unique-to-the-sport season format, fans will be able to follow their journeys and engage in their stories from PFL Regular Season kick-off May 9 to PFL Championship New Year’s Eve.”
Added Ray Sefo, President of PFL Fighter Operations: “PFL is the only major MMA organization with a women’s lightweight division. Fans are going to love this talented group of women athletes competing for a world title and the $1 million prize. Kayla Harrison is a US household name and the favorite heading into the season, but she’ll be facing strong competition from around the world, including top fighters from Brazil, Canada, New Zealand, and Russia who want to enforce their will in the cage.”
Women’s Lightweight Division
Kayla Harrison (USA): Harrison became the first U.S. athlete to take home judo gold at the Olympic Games when she conquered London in 2012. She made history a second time, defending her Olympic title at the Rio Games in 2016. Harrison made her MMA debut with the PFL in 2018, going 3-0 with two knockouts and a submission.
Sarah Kaufman (Canada): Kaufman is the most experienced fighter in the women’s lightweight division with 20 victories and 25 career fights, half by knockout. Over the course of her career Kaufman has held the Invicta FC Bantamweight title and was the first Strikeforce women’s Bantamweight champion.
Genah Fabian (New Zealand): Fabian, nicknamed “Fabioso,” won the women’s Muaythai Council 2018 World Title. A natural athlete, Fabian competed in track and field and rowing before training in Muay Thai and starting her MMA pro career. Fabian is a dangerous striker, looking to build on her 1-0 MMA record.
Bobbi Jo Dalziel (Canada): Standing at six feet, the tallest competitor in the women’s lightweight division, Dalziel enters this season undefeated with a 4-0 record. Three of those victories were by knockout, including one via a brutal head kick. She served active military duty for seven years.
Svetlana Khautova (Russia): Khautova made her MMA debut in 2016, winning by second-round knockout. She is a relative newcomer, which is hard for opponents to scout and prepare. She has a grappling heavy approach and she’ll be looking to take down all PFL challengers.
Roberta Samad (Brazil): Hailing from Brazil, Samad has a 4-1 career MMA record, three wins by knockout and another by submission, earning the nickname, “Crush.” Samad stepped away from fighting following her only career loss, becoming a mother and relocating to the US, and is eager to return with the PFL.
Larissa Pacheco (Brazil): Born and raised in Marituba, Brazil, Pacheco first found her love of martial arts when she began Muay Thai at the age of 15. At age 19, Pacheco became the youngest UFC pro fighter in 2014. After suffering a broken arm in a fight, Pacheco made her return to the cage in 2018, a second-round win by guillotine choke. Pacheco has amassed 11 career MMA wins, seven by submission.
Morgan Frier (USA): Nicknamed “Mad Dog,” Frier has won her last four fights all by first-round stoppage in less than a minute, which bodes well under the PFL’s proprietary scoring system. Frier is a U.S. Army veteran hailing from California.
The PFL earlier this week unveiled the first group of 2019 roster selections, which featured nine returning PFL 2018 Season finalists from their respective weight divisions, including five of the 2018 PFL World Champions. Over the coming weeks, selection will continue and more elite fighters will be revealed, completing the 2019 Season 68-fighter group.