Professional Fighters League is looking to change the face of MMA as we know it. In most other sports there is a season. If you do well in the regular season you continue on. This could be on to the Superbowl playoffs, World Series, World Cup and the like. With the exception of a few occasional tournaments, MMA has typically been a free for all. Often success is highly dependent on public persona rather than actual skill. The Professional Fighters League (PFL) is looking to change that.
No More Politics in MMA
“I’m very excited. Not very often do fighter’s get a chance to fight for million dollars,” said Light Heavyweight Rakim “The Boogeyman” Cleveland. “It is nice. Not every promotion takes the time and spends the money to do that. It is different and they are trying to make a family type feel out of this. It takes all of the politics out of it. It’s about who’s the best fighter rather than who has the best hype. You can have a guy who is undefeated not a great talker get looked over because of people who can talk their way into a title fight. People who can sell tickets because they can talk.”
New Professional Fighters League Tournament and Season
On Monday, April 23rd a total of 72 competitors were flown into Orlando, Florida for the Professional Fighters League 2018 Fighter’s Summit. Six weight classes are hosted this season from featherweight to heavyweight. Each fighter will compete in two regular-season bouts and will receive points for their performance. Each class will start with a dozen fighters. After the regular season, the top eight will advance to the million dollar tournament, the culmination of which will be on New Year’s Eve.
“I think it is an amazing format where winners are advanced and the losers are done. It’s not about how many headlines or if you perform or if you don’t,” said Heavyweight Daniel “Big Kansas” Gallemore. “For me as a little guy, it enables me to reach the upper echelon without trying to get in the headlines or having my name blasted for good or bad. It’s an even playing field for everyone.”
The first night at the Florida Hotel packed the conference room with fighters, managers, coaches and the plethora of Professional Fighters League staff members. PFL President of Fight Operations, Ray Sefo and PFL President Carlos Silva explained the format to the room full of athletes. After the meeting, virtually the whole room headed to a local ale house where food and drinks were hosted by PFL. Many fighters voiced concern over an open bar with a house full of opponents, but everyone kept it professional.
Mimicking a Championship Format that Works
“This is what K1 was doing when I was coming up in the K1 scene,” said Sefo. “I was signed with them for 14 years. Obviously with what we have done. We have modified it a little bit. The championship is two months later rather than all in one night and that is the only big difference. That is the only slight difference. Other than that this is going to work 100%. Not only is it going to work, it puts fighters in control of his destiny. It’s all up to them. You win, you move on. Eventually, you get to the finals and you can win one million dollars and go home a world champion.
You don’t get that anywhere else but baseball, basketball, football and sports like that. Here in the states, we have seen it work. Anyone who doesn’t believe that doesn’t understand it or they have never been in that format, but it works.”
The second and third days of the Professional Fighters League Fighter’s Summit are focused on getting the necessary media (photos, interviews, etc) from all of the fighters so that the PFL marketing has plenty of material to promote the competitors throughout the regular season and the tournament. Breakout sessions are hosted to assist fighters in generating and maintaining their own social media, understanding the format, point and pay scale as well as general sessions to get better acquainted with the PFL team.
High Expectations for the 2018 Season
“I feel blessed for the chance to be in the tournament,” said Heavyweight Josh “Cuddly Bear” Copeland. “For me, it is just fun to be apart of something like this. I’m one of twelve heavyweights in the world that gets to do this. I think is something that has been needing to happen. For me, going from the UFC to this was a big change. PFL is willing to put a lot into this. They showed up to shoot a video of me with a six-person camera crew, lights, sound and everything. They are extremely professional.”
The regular season for PFL kicks off on June 7th at Madison Square Garden featuring heavyweights and featherweights. The promotion will air live on NBC Sports on Thursday nights.
Follow Professional Fighter’s League and the fighters mentioned in this article on Instagram at:
Ray Sefo: @sugarraysefo
Daniel Gallemore: @big_kansas
Rakim Cleveland: @rakim_theboogeyman_cleveland
Josh Copeland: @joshcuddlybear