PFL CEO Peter Murray bared that they are targeting an April return in 2021.
“Weâ€™re locked and loaded for next year,” Murray told Empire Sports Media in an exclusive interview. “Our broadcast partners are on board including ESPN. We will have more expansive coverage internationally. Our fighter contracts are all locked, our fighters are getting ready for next season which will start in April, a month earlier than the previous seasons.Â Â All our sponsors have renewed, ready to go for next year.”
The PFL will stage its next season at a single location in the US and bring in their fighters from 20 countries all over the world.
“Weâ€™re looking at and execute the learnings from the NBA, even what the UFC has done very, very well.Â We will have our version of it,” Murray said.Â “And should the landscape of Covid-19 change and we hope it does then we are in a position to open up our events perhaps to fans and we look forward to that.”
The NBA has successfully continued its season in Orlando while the UFC has created its own Fight Island in Abu Dhabi.
With those as blueprints on how to insulate its product from the pandemic, the PFL is looking to get back on track and build on its momentum after shaking things up in the MMA with its string of innovations.
In 2017, the PFL introduced a season-format where fighters earn points to qualify for the playoffs and compete in championships in six weight classes. They have also capitalized on technology, providing real-time data analytics during fights for a more immersive viewing experience.
“This is the format that worked in the NBA, EPL, NFL, and other major sports and we feel thatâ€™s the key differentiator to re-imagine the MMA sports, grow the sport and scale the PFL around the world,” Murray said.
With meritocracy, transparency, and incentivizing athletes at the core, they were able to create an exciting league that is fast catching up with the UFC.
“We’re now in the No.2 market position in the world in just a short amount of time and we have a business plan for the growth of the sport and the PFL as a league. Our view is thereâ€™s more room for more than one leader and together, weâ€™ll absolutely grow the sport and this sport has yet to peak. In the next 3-5 years, youâ€™ll see much growth in the US and outside,” Murray said.
Murray also bared that they are holding talks with several countries for potential sites of their season-ender.
“Weâ€™re looking forward to our first event potentially outside the US, our year-ending championship. We are in discussion with select countries and destination partners,” Murray said.
“We are focused on the US next season but should the Covid-19 landscape change, we are contemplating our world championship in 2021 to partner with a country and a key destination, put on a fantastic, pinnacle sports entertainment event where each title fight has life-changing money on the line, a million-dollar cheque,” he added.
On top of its ESPN broadcast deal, the PFL is also being distributed in 160 countries worldwide and Murray said they are looking to expand more.
“Russia is an important market. Western Europe, Latin America, Southeast Asia are all critically important to us and thereâ€™s definitely future growth, massive opportunity in China, and India,” Murray said.
With their season on hold, the league has introduced a lot of original content from their PFL Studios headed by George Greenberg, a 16-time Emmy Award-winning producer, and director.
They have already produced the â€œFantastic Finishes”, a seven-episode series that showcased the knockouts and submissions across the PFLâ€™s six weight classes.Â Meanwhile, the 10-episode â€œInside The Season” provides fans inside access to their 2019 season with never-before-seen footage.
They have also lined up two more series: â€œA Championâ€™s Journeyâ€ and â€œThe Randy Couture Storyâ€.Â The former will give a spotlight on their elite fighters such as Kayla Harrison, Lance Palmer, and Ray Cooper III, and newcomer Rory McDonald, while the latter will navigate the life of current PFL broadcaster and MMA legend Randy Couture.