Former UFC heavyweight champion Fabricio Werdum (24-9-1, 1 NC) is not going to be competing at PFL 6 after all. Yesterday, The Professional Fight League announced their sixth event for the 2021 season.
PFL 6 was the second event of the year that would feature heavyweights and women’s lightweight. Werdum was slated for the co-main event of the evening where he was taking on Brandon Sayles (6-1).
Sayles was coming off of his huge win at PFL 3 over Mohammed Usman. As a reward, the PFL gave him the former UFC heavyweight champion. However, that fight is no longer going to take place.
MMA Fighting was the first to report that Fabricio Werdum has pulled out of the fight. Supposedly, he’s unable to compete after suffering some damage in his No Contest against Renan Ferreira (6-2, 1 NC) a month ago.
In that fight at PFL 3, Werdum locked up a triangle choke in the first round. It definitely appeared that Ferreira tapped, but the referee missed it. Ferreira escaped the choke and dropped bombs on Werdum which ended the fight.
Since then, the athletic commission overturned the fight to a No Contest. Werdum was looking to pick up his first PFL win, but it now appears that he’s going to have to wait.
PFL 6 Without Werdum
For now, PFL will move forward on June 25th without the former heavyweight champion. They still have some very solid fights on the card including Kayla Harrison (9-0) facing off against Cindy Dandois (16-6) in the main event.
Sayles will remain on the card and PFL is actively searching for a replacement opponent. It is unclear at this time how long Werdum will be out and whether or not he will compete during the rest of the 2021 season.
If Werdum cannot compete, it will be a massive blow after PFL made a big investment in him. Werdum’s first opponent in the promotion will take on the former PFL heavyweight champion Ali Isaev (9-0) in his first fight of the season. The rest of the card can be seen below.
Isaev was pulled from the first PFL event for the heavyweights and was docked a point for having his fight fall through. In his first matchup of the season, he will be taking on Renan Ferreira (6-2, 1 NC).
Ferreira took on former UFC heavyweight champion Fabricio Werdum (24-9-1, 1 NC) in his first matchup of the PFL season. This matchup was layered in controversy after the way that it ended.
The fight started with an incredible pace and Werdum was able to lock in a triangle choke early. It clearly looked like Ferreira tapped from the choke, but the referee didn’t see it. Ferreira was able to get out of the choke and started dropping bombs.
The referee called a stop to the action and spoiled the PFL debut of Werdum. Werdum claimed he lightened the choke after feeling the tap and appealed the loss. The athletic commission overturned the fight to a No Contest. I figured PFL would do the rematch, but instead, Ferreira will take on Isaev.
PFL Round 2 for Werdum
Fabricio Werdum is getting a second chance to make an impressive statement in PFL. In reality, he should have a first round submission win on his Pro Fight League resume, but nothing can change that at this point.
In his next fight, Werdum will take on Brandon Sayles (6-1). Sayles pulled off arguably the most impressive performance of all the heavyweights in his first matchup of the season. He took on the hot prospect, Mohammed Usman (7-2).
Sayles looked incredibly slick on the feet and it ended dropping Usman multiple times. Once the fight was on the ground, Sayles locked up a choke and put Usman out. He will look to pull off another upset in his second PFL matchup of the season.
As mentioned above, Kayla Harrison will headline and I expect her to roll in her second fight of the season. I’ll be very curious to see how Larissa Pacheco (14-4) looks in her second fight as she takes on Helena Kolesnyk (5-3). Great matchups for the sixth PFL event of 2021.
Tonight at PFL 3, the heavyweights got their opportunity to kick off the 2021 season. In the main event of the evening, former UFC heavyweight champion Fabricio Werdum (24-9-1) was making his PFL debut.
Standing in his way tonight was the massive Renan Ferreira (6-2). While a lot of attention was on the main event, there was one name that was missing from tonight’s card. That man is the defending PFL heavyweight champion Ali Isaev (9-0).
Earlier this week, PFL announced that Isaev’s fight would not happen tonight although a reason was not given. Isaev and his opponent Hatef Moeil both recieved -1 point for their fight not happening. That said, the heavyweights still put on a show in their season opener.
A fight I was incredibly intrigued by was the matchup between Mohammed Usman (7-2) and Brandon Sayles (6-1). Usman is the younger brother of current UFC welterweight champion Kamaru Usman.
Mohammed Usman looks like a top prospect and I was incredibly excited to watch him debut with PFL. However, Brandon Sayles looked incredibly prepared and was ready to give Usman a challenge in his debut with the promotion.
PFL 3 Heavyweight Results
Mohammed Usman was a huge betting favorite heading into PFL 3. However, it was evident from the opening bell that the odds were off. Brandon Sayles looked sensational tonight in a fight that turned out to be a lot of fun.
Sayles was incredibly light on his feet and just seemed to beat Usman to the punch all night. In the second round, Sayles dropped Usman a couple of times before getting his back. Once there, he choked Usman out to get the five-point finish. Incredible performance at PFL 3 from Brandon Sayles.
The main event between Ferreira and Werdum started out crazy as both men started with flying kicks. After the kicks, the two men ended up on the ground. The former UFC champion started out on top.
However, Ferreira was able to reverse the position and end up on top. Once Ferreira was on top, Werdum was able to lock in a triangle choke. It was incredibly deep, but Ferreira was dropping bombs on Werdum while defending.
It appeared that Ferreira tapped, but the referee never stopped it and Werdum appeared to loosen the choke. Ferreira landed bombs as he did and the fight was stopped. Ferreira gets the TKO win, but it looks like he should’ve lost by submission. Crazy finish to the third PFL event of 2021.
Tomorrow night, PFL will host their third event of their 2021 season. The event will feature the promotion’s heavyweights and the women at lightweight. There is a lot of good action happening at PFL 3.
Kayla Harrison (8-0) is returning for her third PFL season tomorrow night. The former Olympic Gold Medalist has won the previous two Professional Fight League seasons in 2018 and 2019.
Harrison is the massive favorite to retain her PFL crown this year. Her first opponent of the 2021 season is Mariana Morais (16-10). Morais does have a lot of experience and she’s competed with some big names in the past.
Some of the names Morais has been in there with includes Jennifer Maia, Roxanne Modafferi, and Ariane Lipski. Morais is going to be very undersized at PFL 3 as she normally competes at 135 pounds. However, all the attention is going to be on Harrison and I’m expecting a dominating performance.
Larissa Pacheco (13-4) is the other lightweight to watch tomorrow night. She’s taking on Julija Pajic (2-0). Pacheco competed in the 2019 season and only lost twice. Both of those losses came to Kayla Harrison.
Outside of those two PFL losses, her other two losses came in the UFC against former champions Jessica Andrade and Germaine de Randamie. If anyone is going to give Harrison a challenge this season, it will be Pacheco.
The main attention tomorrow night is going to be on the PFL heavyweights. Former UFC heavyweight champion and all time great Fabricio Werdum (24-9-1) headlines the card tomorrow night. He will be making his Professional Fight League debut.
Standing across from Werdum is Renan Ferreira (6-2). Ferreira is a massive man standing 6’8 and weighing around the heavyweight limit of 265 pounds. Werdum is the massive favorite, but the size of Ferreira should give the former UFC champion a challenge.
I’m also incredibly excited to see the debut of Mohammed Usman (7-1). Usman is the younger brother of UFC champion Kamaru Usman. Mohammed Usman comes in with a lot of hype and he’s taking on Brandon Sayles (5-1).
These four fights have all my attention tomorrow night and I’m incredibly excited to see how they play out. PFL has some heavy hitters in their 2021 season and I’m very excited about this third card.
PFL is gearing up for the start of their heavyweight season. The promotion has announced it’s first round of matchups which will take place on May 6th on ESPN. Headlining the card is former UFC heavyweight champion, Fabricio Werdum (24-9-1).
PFL made a number of big signings in 2020. While the promotion held no fights last year, they went to work in gearing up for their biggest season yet. One of their biggest signings was the former UFC champion.
Werdum is coming off of a huge win against Alexander Gustafsson and the 43 year old is ready to make a run at the PFL heavyweight title. In his first matchup, Werdum will be taking on fellow Brazilian, Renan Ferreira (6-2).
Ferreira will be making his debut with the promotion. The last time he fought was in 2019 when he took on current UFC heavyweight, Jared Vanderaa. Ferreira won that fight by submission.
Ferreira is a huge heavyweight standing 6’8 and usually weighing around the heavyweight limit of 265 pounds. All six of his wins have come via TKO or submission so you know that he’s not going to make Werdum’s PFL debut easy.
Other PFL heavyweight matchups
There are several other key matchups in this initial heavyweight round for PFL. One guy to watch would be the 2019 champion Ali Isaev (9-0). The Dagestani heavyweight will be taking on Hatef Moeil (10-4).
Moeil will enter PFL having won six fights in a row including wins over James McSweeney and Ricco Rodriguez. Another heavyweight I have my eyes on is Mohammed Usman (7-1). Usman is the younger brother of UFC welterweight champion, Kamaru Usman.
Mohammed Usman will be making his PFL debut against Brandon Sayles (5-1). UFC veteran Justin Willis (8-2) also makes his return for this upcoming season in PFL. Willis hasn’t fought since his loss to Curtis Blaydes. That loss in 2019 snapped an eight-fight win streak.
In his debut, Willis will be taking on Russian contender, Denis Goltsov (25-6). Goltsov lost to Isaev in the semi-finals of the 2019 season. This is arguably the matchup I’m the most excited about. The 2021 PFL heavyweight season should be a good one and I’m excited for it to get going.
PFL is currently gearing up for their return for the 2021 season. After COVID cancelled the 2020 season, the promotion is ready to hit the ground running this year. While no fights took place in 2020, PFL sure stayed in the news with a number of big signings.
One of the biggest signings for PFL in 2020 was Fabricio Werdum (24-9-1). The former UFC heavyweight champion completed his contract with the UFC back in July on Fight Island. That night, Werdum welcomed Alexander Gustafsson to the heavyweight division.
In reality, it smelled like a showcase for Gustafsson. Werdum looked awful against Alexey Oleynik in May where he lost a split decision and this was a quick turnaround. Many (including myself) wrote off the 43 year old former champion.
However, Werdum showed everyone up that night. After a quick takedown, Werdum was able to lockup an armbar for the win halfway through the round. From there, he immediately raised his value on the free agent market.
PFL and Bellator were both very interested in bringing in Werdum. Werdum had the Fedor rematch waiting in Bellator, but PFL wanted him to bring more attention to their heavyweight division. In the end, Werdum signed with the Pro Fight League and he will be highlighted this season.
Other PFL heavyweights to watch
There are three other PFL heavyweights I’m really watching for during the upcoming season. The most obvious one to me would be Ali Isaev (9-0). The heavyweight from Dagestan was the 2019 PFL heavyweight champion.
With four dominating performances, Isaev put the world on notice that he’s a threat at heavyweight. The next guy I have my eyes on is Justin Willis (8-2). “Big Pretty” hasn’t fought since March of 2019. That was the final fight he had with the UFC.
Willis took on Curtis Blaydes and came up short by decision. However, up until that point, Willis was 4-0 in the UFC and that included a win over former title challenger, Mark Hunt. Willis is definitely a sleeper in PFL’s upcoming season.
The last guy I have my eyes on is Mohammed Usman (7-1). The younger and much bigger brother of the current UFC welterweight champion, Kamaru Usman. Mohammed Usman is riding a four-fight win streak as he makes his debut in the big leagues under the PFL banner.
I cannot wait for this upcoming season of PFL. The promotion took the time off last year to really raise the bar in terms of talent on their roster. I love that another big promotion is making waves in US MMA. You can view the full heavyweight roster below.
OFFICIAL: The 2021 PFL Heavyweight & Women's Lightweight divisions are locked in and will compete at #PFL3 on Thursday, May 6th! pic.twitter.com/lZtwzf18Wg
World champions Kayla Harrison, Lance Palmer, Natan Schulte, and Ray Cooper III will be back to defend their titles in the most innovative and fastest-growing Mixed Martial Arts league on the planet.
The PFL has also added former world champions Rory MacDonald, Fabricio Werdum, Anthony Pettis and boxing icon Claressa Shields and many more world-class fighters in what promises to be its biggest offering yet.
The new PFL season will be aired live on the ESPN family of networks beginning in April.
Since its debut three years ago, the PFL has taken the MMA world by storm. Along with the finest collection of athletes globally, the league has continued to grow its fight-night and in-cage technology through SmartCage and IBM.
PFL fighters will compete in regular-season fights to accumulate points that will determine who will advance to the playoffs. The survivors from six different weight classes will battle it out in an exciting knockout style format in the playoffs. Each champion will be rewarded with a million-dollar paycheck.
Return of the champions
Harrison, a former Olympic gold medalist, Palmer, Schulte, and Cooper III are among the select few who have already run the gauntlet of the PFL and cashed in.
MacDonald is arguably one of the top pound-for-pound fighters of his generation. He took note of the PFL’s innovations and signed with the promotion in 2019. The welterweight fighter will make his debut this year.
In 2020, the PFL roster grew with the additions of such fighters as Cezar “Mutante” Ferreira and Sung Bin Jo. It served as a precursor to the earth-shattering signings of Werdum, Pettis, and Shields.
Werdum has risen to the top of the heavyweight division on more than one occasion, beating the likes of Fedor Emelianenko and Cain Velasquez along the way.
On the other hand, Pettis is also a former lightweight champion who has also competed at welterweight. His resume includes victories over Benson Henderson, Charles Oliveira, and Donald Cerrone.
Meanwhile, Shields is aiming to become the PFL’s crossover star. She will continue her quest inside the boxing ring while also beginning her career as a mixed martial artist this year. The three-division boxing world champion has been training at the world-famous Jackson-Wink MMA gym in New Mexico in preparation for her much anticipated PFL debut.
While the UFC continues to reign over the landscape of mixed martial arts worldwide, the Professional Fighters League (PFL) has exploded into the scene and now finds itself right behind the industry leader after just three years.
In an interview with CombatPress.com, PFL founder Donn Davis said that the league had established itself as the number-two MMA company globally on multiple factors, including fighter roster, worldwide audience, distribution, and growth.
“So I think what you’re seeing now, by all metrics, is the PFL is the number-two MMA company worldwide. In terms of fighter roster, PFL is number two. For a worldwide audience, PFL is number two. In terms of worldwide distribution, PFL is number two, and in terms of growth, PFL is number two,” Davis said.
But what pushed the PFL out into the front of the pack, alongside the UFC?
Founded in 2017, the league has already been able to put on two massively-successful seasons. Now, they are gearing up for the third season, which kicks off in April.
Notice how the PFL’s year is called a season?
That’s because the league follows a tournament-style format, which is unique in the world of MMA.
The league uses a regular season, playoffs, and finals format, which means the fighters will need to win to advance. At the end of the season, a world champion will be crowned for each weight division, and the winners are awarded one million dollars.
Making that tournament format all the more exciting for the fans to watch is the stacked roster of fighters that the PFL boasts.
Each of the league’s six weight divisions features veterans and up-and-coming talent from across the globe. The PFL is home to many of the MMA world’s top stars, including PFL Women’s Lightweight Champion Kayla Harrison, two-time PFL Featherweight Champion Lance Palmer, two-time PFL Lightweight Champion Natan Schulte, and many others.
In 2021, the league will have an influx of world championship talent led by Fabricio Werdum, Anthony Pettis, Rory MacDonald, and three-division boxing world champion Claressa Shields, who will be making her mixed martial arts debut.
While the PFL indeed features an all-star roster of fighters, they also have the number one executive team in sports.
Founder Donn Davis, who was also behind Revolution LLC, has brought together some of the top minds in media, sports, and digital to lead the league to the top.
Leading the charge is PFL CEO Peter Murray, who helped sign some of the biggest names in sports during his time with Under Armour. Executive Producer George Greenberg has over 40 years of experience and is coming off as an Executive Vice President for Fox Sports. President Ray Sefo was the founder of the World Series of Fighting and is a combat sports legend.
Those big names are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the PFL’s executive management roster.
The PFL is also backed by a world-class team of investors, including Swan & Legend Venture Partners and Matterhorn Private Equity, and Ted Leonsis, David Blitzer, Mark Lerner, Kevin Hart, Mark Burnett, and Tony Robbins. The league has also managed to secure sponsorships with AB InBev, Socios.com, The Marines, and many others.
The PFL can be seen in the United States via ESPN and in an additional 160 more countries worldwide via various platforms and sports networks.
With all these considered, it’s no surprise that the PFL is already at the top of the MMA mountain, alongside the UFC. With another big year in store in 2021, there’s no telling the heights that the fastest growing sports league in the world can reach.
It’s been a very interesting year for Werdum leading up to the PFL signing. Back in May, he made his return to the UFC after being suspended by USADA. Werdum had a lackluster performance in a loss to Alexey Oleynik.
After that, Werdum was booked against Alexander Gustafsson on Fight Island. Werdum looked much better in that fight and was able to use his superior ground skills to submit the former title challenger in the first round.
After the fight was over, it was announced that Werdum was a free agent. While PFL was on the radar, many expected Werdum to land with Bellator. Werdum had a previous relationship with Scott Coker and there were exciting fights in Bellator.
After the failed negotiations with Bellator, Werdum announced that his management was in talks with PFL. It didn’t take long after that. Today we have learned that Werdum will be taking his talents to the Professional Fighters League.
PFL’s New Heavyweight
It’s been a tough year for PFL much like it’s been for the rest of the world. With everything going on, the promotion was not able to host any additional events in 2020 which brought great frustration to their stable of fighters.
We haven’t seen or heard much about Bellator‘s Last Emperor in 2020. Fedor Emelianenko has yet to step foot into the cage this year after competing back in December of 2019 at Bellator 237.
The 44 year old has been in a state of limbo much like the rest of the world. Bellator President, Scott Coker, had been asked in recent months about the return of Fedor. He never gave a clear answer on what would be next for Emelianenko.
There was talk of Emelianenko perhaps getting a rematch with Fabricio Werdum. Werdum was the man who snapped Emelianenko’s historic winning streak back in Strikeforce ten years ago.
With that, it looks like we are not going to get the rematch after all. However, Coker did shed some light on when Emelianenko would be making his return to the cage.
Fedor’s Bellator Return
Coker told reporters on Thursday, “We’d really like him to fight when there’s an audience available. But that can be challenging. So we’ll have to make a decision here pretty soon. But he’s going to fight in 2021 for sure, no matter what, because he has to fight and he’s got to keep going.”
Obviously there’s no word on who Bellator will pair up against Emelianenko, but I would expect it to be a high profile matchup. Perhaps Bellator can work things out and make the rematch happen with Werdum.
If they can’t make that happen, another good possibility could be Cheick Kongo. Kongo was close to getting a title shot, however, he just lost a decision to Timothy Johnson last month.
Either way, we know for sure that Fedor Emelianenko will be returning to Bellator at some point in 2021. I know Coker is wanting to wait for fans, but I think that’s something he might have to give up on.