PFL announces welterweight matchups including Rory MacDonald – David Michaud

The 2021 PFL season is getting ready to kick off next month. Over the last couple of weeks we’ve seen the promotion announce the opening matchups for many of their weight classes including the men’s lightweight division.

The first round of lightweight matchups is headlined by the anticipated matchup between Anthony Pettis and Clay Collard. Today, PFL announced the welterweight matchups that will kick off on April 29th.

The headliner of the 4/29 card is the welterweight matchup between Rory MacDonald (21-6-1) and David Michaud (18-6). Michaud is no stranger to the PFL ring. He competed in the 2019 PFL season.

Michaud was stopped in his first fight against Sadibou Sy in just 17 seconds. However, after that fight, Michaud would rattle off three consecutive wins that put him in the PFL season finale against Ray Cooper III.

Ultimately, Michaud was stopped in the second round and came up short in his opportunity to capture PFL gold. Well, the 2019 runner-up gets the biggest matchup in the opening round of the 2021 season.

MacDonald’s PFL Debut

On April 29th, Rory MacDonald will be making his highly anticipated PFL debut. MacDonald is already a veteran of the UFC and Bellator and now he will be trying out the Pro Fight League for the 2021 season.

We haven’t seen MacDonald since he lost to Douglas Lima back at Bellator 232 in October of 2019. That was the final fight on MacDonald’s Bellator contract and the talented welterweight started exploring his options.

In the end, MacDonald decided to sign with PFL for their 2020 season. Of course, the season never happened after COVID shut everything down. Now, more than a year later, MacDonald finally has his PFL debut set.

Rory MacDonald looked like he was going to be the next great superstar in MMA. MacDonald grew up in the sport competing in all areas of martial arts. He was considered to be a new-breed MMA fighter and his mentor was Georges St. Pierre.

However, MacDonald never fully lived up to expectations. MacDonald came within a round of becoming UFC champion, but Robbie Lawler pulled off a rally TKO. MacDonald did become a champion in Bellator, but he couldn’t put together a long reign.

Now, the 31 year old starts off on his new journey with PFL. Considering the length of his career, it’s shocking to think MacDonald is only 31. I’m very excited to watch him compete in this upcoming PFL season. A refreshed Rory MacDonald could mean trouble for the Pro Fight League welterweights.

Sizing up PFL’s 2021 lightweight season

Yesterday, PFL took the headlines as they announced their matchups for their card on April 23rd. One of the divisions that has the most hype around it entering the 2021 season for PFL is the lightweight division.

The promotion took the year off in 2020, but they spent time trying to build up their roster. Arguably the biggest signing they had in all of 2020 was signing former UFC and WEC lightweight champion, Anthony Pettis (24-10).

Pettis won two fights in a row to close out his UFC contract before he hit the open market. It didn’t take long for PFL to sign Pettis for the 2021 season once he was on the market. It was announced yesterday who Pettis will meet in his debut. 

Showtime will be taking on Clay Collard (18-8, 1 NC) in his PFL debut. Collard spent the last couple of years in the professional boxing ring. Before losing his last couple of bouts, he went an astonishing 5-0 in 2020. Some of the matches took place under the Top Rank banner.

Collard is now ready to resume his MMA career, and he will do that in style. PFL‘s lightweight season should be fantastic this year and there are several fighters that everyone should be paying attention to.

PFL lightweights to watch

Of course, the first PFL lightweight that you have to think about his Natan Schulte (20-3-1). I mean how can you not considering he won both the 2018 and 2019 seasons at lightweight in PFL.

Schulte is 9-0-1 in his career with the Pro Fight League. He will have a target on his back as he tries to make it three seasons in a row in 2021. Schulte will take on UFC and Bellator veteran, Marcin Held (26-7), in his first matchup of the 2021 season.

The next guy I have my eyes on is Loik Radzhabov (13-2-1). Radzhabov was the runner up in 2019 and he looks like he could make another run at PFL’s lightweight crown in 2021. Radzhabov will take on UFC vet, Johnny Case (27-7-1) in his first matchup of 2021.

Another big signing for PFL in 2020 was signing Olivier Aubin-Mercier (11-5). “The Canadian Gangster” was the runner-up in his season of The Ultimate Fighter and he spent the majority of his career with the UFC.

Aubin-Mercier has been in there with the likes of Gilbert Burns, Diego Ferreira, Drew Dober, and more. He’s got a wealth of experience and he’s a very exciting addition to the PFL lightweight roster.

In his debut, he will be taking on Joilton Lutterbach (34-8). There is a lot to be excited for when looking at the 2021 season for The Pro Fight League. Their lightweight division looks great this year and I’m excited to see just how this season plays out.

Anthony Pettis will make PFL debut against Clay Collard

The PFL debut is set for Anthony “Showtime” Pettis (24-10). The former UFC and WEC lightweight champion will make his debut with the promotion against Clay Collard (18-8, 1 NC). The matchup will take place on April 23rd.

Anthony Pettis closed out his UFC contract at the end of 2020. The UFC had tried to negotiate an extension with the former champion earlier in the year, however, Pettis wanted to bet on himself. Pettis won two straight to close 2020 and entered free agency.

Once he hit the market, it was known that he wasn’t returning to the UFC. Bellator and PFL instantly were in contact with the Pettis camp. Pettis’ younger brother, Sergio, is one of the best fighters in Bellator. They were seen as the early favorite to land Showtime.

However, not long after he became a free agent, Pettis signed an exclusive deal with PFL to compete in the 2021 season. The Pro Fight League really wanted Pettis and they made him a great offer to bring him in.

Pettis was just one of many big signings for PFL in the last year. After cancelling the 2020 season due to COVID, the promotion bolstered their rosters in order to have their biggest season yet in 2021.

Fun matchup to kick off the PFL lightweight season

Standing across from Anthony Pettis on April 23rd will be Clay Collard. Collard has had a very interesting career in combat sports. He was a four-fight veteran of the UFC and he’s put together a solid MMA resume.

However, he’s been known more for his boxing over the last couple of years. Since May of 2019, Collard has really just focused on his boxing. While PFL was on the sidelines over the last year, Collard was in the boxing ring.

Since 2019, Collard has boxed in 15 professional bouts. Several of those came under the Top Rank banner. He just fought last weekend against Maidel Sando and lost a decision. Now, Collard will turn his attention back to PFL and MMA.

This should be a fun matchup and it’s great matchmaking to kickoff the PFL lightweight season. We know how entertaining Anthony Pettis can be and we know how good the hands of Clay Collard are. Should be a very fun matchup in April.

Sizing up PFL’s 2021 heavyweight season

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.

Sizing up PFL’s women’s lightweight division for the 2021 season

MMA, PFL

The return of PFL is upon us. The Pro Fight League has spent the last week releasing it’s rosters for their upcoming season in 2021. The promotion didn’t hold a season last year due to the ongoing pandemic.

However, with new safety measures in place, PFL is ready to go for their 2021 season. One of the division’s they will spend a lot of time advertising is their women’s lightweight division. Of course, that division is led by Kayla Harrision (8-0).

Harrison is a former Olympic Gold Medalist in Judo and the reigning PFL lightweight champion. Despite the promotion not having a season in 2020, Harrison was still able to get a fight in under the Invicta promotion.

Harrison took on Courtney King in November and completely battered her over two rounds before the fight was stopped. The significance of this matchup was that it took place at featherweight and Harrison made that weight cut for the first time in her MMA career.

We all know that there are future superfights out there for Harrison if she fights at 145 pounds. However, she will return to 155 pounds where she is the champion for PFL‘s upcoming season that begins on April 23rd.

PFL lightweights to watch

You will notice that there is one big name missing from PFL’s upcoming lightweight season. That name would be the pound-for-pound best boxer in the world, Claressa Shields (10-0 in boxing).

PFL made waves when they signed Shields in 2020. As mentioned, Shields is a boxer and hasn’t made her MMA debut yet. Shields is currently scheduled to take on the current female super welterweight champion, Marie Eve Dicaire, on March 5th.

After Shields has that boxing match, her focus will turn to her MMA debut. She’s expected to make her debut later in 2021. In terms of the other lightweights in this tournament, there are two names to watch out for.

One fighter I have my eyes on is Cindy Dandois (16-5). Dandois will be making her PFL debut and she’s carrying a four-fight winning into the ring. She could make some waves in this year’s season.

The other fighter I’m watching for is Larissa Pacheo (13-4). Pacheo has already faced Harrison twice in PFL and fell short both times. She’s a UFC veteran and her four career losses are to Harrison, Germaine de Randamie, and Jessica Andrade. Not a bad group to lose to.

I’m very excited to see PFL back up and running in 2021. They’ve made some big signings and this year should be a lot of fun. I’m very intrigued by this lightweight division and I’m interested to see if anyone can take down Kayla Harrison.

PFL’s biggest stars ready for new season

Professional Fighters League’s reigning champions along with its new big-name signees are all set for its 2021 season.

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.

Innovative format

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.

New stars

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.

Follow this writer on Twitter: @alderalmo

Inside PFL’s rise as no.2 global market leader in MMA

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.

Top MMA Promotions - PFL

Season format

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.

Stacked roster

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.

Top-notch management

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.

Overwhelming support

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.

Follow this writer on Twitter: @alderalmo

BREAKING: Anthony Pettis has signed with PFL

The free agency of Anthony “Showtime” Pettis (24-10) did not last very long. ESPN was first to report that Pettis has agreed to a new deal with PFL. Pettis will compete in their 2021 season in the lightweight division.

Showtime just announced last night that he was leaving the UFC to pursue free agency. Bellator’s Scott Coker expressed serious interest in bringing in Pettis given the fact that they already have Sergio Pettis on the roster.

However, Pettis found his dream deal with PFL. Pettis is the second former UFC champion that has signed with PFL to compete for the promotion during their 2021 season. The other being former heavyweight champion, Fabricio Werdum. 

This is a big signing for PFL who has started to make waves this year with signings. Of course, they did sign Werdum, but they also made headlines signing the best pound-for-pound boxer in the world, Claressa Shields. 

Now, they add Showtime Pettis to their expanding roster. PFL has been looked at as an organization that was a step down from Bellator and ONE Championship which were of course step downs from the UFC. However, PFL is flexing it’s muscles at the end of this year.

Pettis in PFL

As mentioned above, Anthony Pettis will be competing at lightweight under the PFL banner. Pettis just competed at welterweight last weekend at UFC Vegas 17. Pettis was able to secure a unanimous decision victory over Alex Morono.

It’s been an up and down few years for Anthony Pettis. The former champion hadn’t put two straight wins together in the UFC since he was the lightweight champion. He couldn’t have picked a better time to start his first winning streak.

The UFC had gone to Pettis earlier this year and tried to sign him to an extension. Pettis decided to bet on himself and look at all the options. Just a few days after he fought out the last fight on his deal, he’s found his new home with PFL.

Anthony Pettis announces that he’s leaving the UFC

This past weekend at UFC Vegas 17, Anthony Pettis (24-10) took on Alex Morono (18-7, 1 NC). Pettis made the walk in what was the final fight on his current deal with the UFC. Pettis was betting on himself Saturday night.

The UFC had gone to Pettis with an offer to extend his contract prior to the Donald Cerrone fight early this year. However, Pettis decided to turn down the offer and wait things out. Entering the cage Saturday night, there was still no deal in place.

Pettis was able to pull out the unanimous decision victory at UFC Vegas 17. After the fight was over, Pettis said that he wanted to go back to lightweight and capture a world title. Pettis competed at welterweight on Saturday night.

In the days after UFC Vegas 17, there has been a lot of speculation on what Anthony Pettis would do moving forward. Would he resign with the UFC or would he perhaps move on to Bellator where his brother currently fights.

After days of contemplating, it seems that Showtime has made his decision. After 12 years of competing for the UFC and the WEC, Pettis is moving on. He announced the news on Twitter this evening.

Life after the UFC

Pettis will walk away from the Zuffa banner having held a world title in the WEC and the UFC. While his career has been very up and down since he lost his lightweight championship years ago, he’s still one of the most recognizable athletes in the sport.

For the first time since 2008, Pettis will be competing outside of the Zuffa promotions. So where does Pettis go now that he’s leaving the UFC? There are going to be several suitors for the former world champion.

Clearly the favorite should be Bellator. Bellator is where his brother is signed and they could use more star power in their lightweight division. If I was a betting man, that is where I’d place my money.

However, I wouldn’t put it past PFL or even ONE to make a run at the former UFC champion. I would expect that we will know where Pettis will be going in the next couple of weeks.

PFL star Clay Collard looks to close 2020 with a bang

Clay Collard decided to take advantage of every opportunity presented before him during a tumultuous time.

Collard will begin his quest for the largest paycheck in mixed martial arts when the Professional Fighters League returns in 2021 and will also look to close out 2020 in convincing fashion inside another arena.

The dual-sport megastar seeks his sixth consecutive win as a professional boxer when he competes this Saturday for Top Rank Boxing on the ESPN+ Shakur Stevenson vs. Toka Khan Clary card.

Collard will face Quincy LaVallais in Las Vegas from The Bubble, MGM Grand Convention Center. The bout will take place at 160 pounds and is scheduled for eight rounds.

Since January, Collard has been on a roll, racking up five wins in an eight-month span, including three stoppages. He is coming off a second-round knockout over Maurice Williams, in which he showed off his incredible boxing skills in a short amount of time.

“It’s been amazing,” Collard said during a recent Q&A hosted by Fight Hub TV. “I am fighting often, fighting tough opponents and loving all of the fans and love I have been getting from them. It’s just exciting.”

Collard has always shown his ability to adapt and thrive. He has competed in three different MMA weight classes and will focus on fighting at lightweight when the PFL’s 2021 Regular Season kicks off in a matter of months.

Collard has posted an 18-8 record inside the cage, including back-to-back victories just before signing with the PFL. He is 9-2-3 as a professional boxer.

“I want to keep dabbling in both,” Collard said. “I feel like it sets me apart from other fighters. I’m a striker, and I’m going to box regardless. (In MMA training) I am working my takedown defense and getting back up off the ground to get where I am comfortable, and that is to punch people in the face.”

This is not the first time Collard and LaVallais have squared off. Back in 2019, they battled to a draw. The two were also scheduled to meet in October before having the rematch delayed.