Brand names are everywhere and on everything. Almost every product has superior brand names that are easily recognizable. Sports are no different. The NFL is synonymous with football just as the NBA is with basketball. And it’s no different with mixed martial arts or MMA. The UFC is the premiere name brand for MMA. Other MMA leagues have popped up such as Bellator MMA and ONE Championship. They offer some competition to the UFC with another venue for professional fighters to compete in. However another MMA league with a completely different premise has come along. And that would be the Professional Fighters League or PFL, which had its 2019 season debut on May 9th.
Whereas traditional MMA leagues have offered fight cards similar to boxing with unrelated fights which help fighters move up in the rankings of their respective weight classes and also title fights, PFL offers something else. In the PFL there is a regular season and playoffs to crown champions in each weight class. Fighters earn points for victories that rank them, and the top fighters in each weight class go onto to a knock out style (no pun intended) playoff bracket. Therefore each weight class has a playoff bracket with the winner not only being named the champion, but also winning a million dollars!
Each fight card features two separate weight classes. And during the regular season each weight class will compete every six weeks, which equates to three regular season fights for each fighter. A victory earns a fighter three points. And if they finish the fight in the first round they earn three point bonus. A finish in the second round earns the victor two bonus points, and a finish in the third earns them one bonus point.
three points. And if they finish the fight in the first round they earn three point bonus. A finish in the second round earns the victor two bonus points, and a finish in the third earns them one bonus point.
Similarities and Differences
As with the UFC’s non-title matches, PFL has the same match length with three rounds each lasting five minutes. For the men there are five divisions, featherweight, lightweight, welterweight, light heavyweight, and heavyweight. For the women there is a lightweight division. And all weight class limits match those in the UFC.
Some noticeable differences in the PFL from the UFC can be seen in the tale of the tape. In the UFC, the tale of the tape or fighter comparisons which are shown before a bout contain age, height, weight and reach. But in the PFL, the tale of the tape adds in professional records and leg reach. Also as far as rules go, the PFL does not allow elbows as the UFC does.
The PFL came into existence rising from the ashes of the World Series of Fighting (WSOF). The WSOF came into existence in 2012. It had 35 events and was eventually bought out. The new ownership renamed it the PFL. The PFL had its inaugural event in June of 2018. And then had playoffs culminating in the championships on New Year’s Eve. The 2018 season of PFL was broadcast by NBCSN. However the PFL announced a new two -year TV deal prior to the 2019 season, and is broadcasting this current season through ESPN.
Fans of MMA and professional wrestling will recognize some familiar faces associated with the PFL. Their ring announcer is none other than Lilian Garcia who was with the WWE from 1998 until about 2018. And the commentary crew consists of Randy Couture, Yves Edwards, and Sean O’ Connell, all of whom competed in the UFC and had accomplished MMA careers. Many of the fighters are up-and-comers in the MMA world. But one Sarah Kaufman competes in the women’s lightweight division. She competed in the UFC as well and fought some of the best women in MMA.
Season 2 and Beyond
The PFL is still relatively unknown, but with the new ESPN deal, the league will try and widen its viewer base. The second event of the 2019 season is May 23rd and with each new event it will likely pull in more intrigued MMA fans. Will it provide competition for the UFC? For now it’s unclear. But after another few successful seasons there is no telling what will happen!