Skip to main content

Innovation Drives the Professional Fighters League

Graphic with red and white PFL logo over a dark background. Other Sports

The Professional Fighters League, and its unique approach to MMA competition, has resulted in one of the most exciting new additions to the world of sports. Rather than individually sanctioned fights, the PFL introduced a sport-season format in which 72 fighters participate in a regular season, playoffs and a championship. Fighters earn points across six different weight classes before crowing a winner.

Now, the league enters its sixth year with a fresh round of funding and a highly-anticipated partnership with influencer-turned-boxer Jake Paul, who plans to fight twice this year in the new pay-per-view Super Fight division. The PFL will also make its international debut with a regional league called PFL Europe.

Learn more about the 2023 PFL season and the league’s innovative format that is helping to bring fight sports mainstream in the United States. 

History of the PFL

Venture capitalist Donn Davis launched the Professional Fighters League in 2018 after acquiring and restructuring the World Series of Fighting (WSOF). The league’s first event was held on June 7, 2018, at the Hulu Theater at Madison Square Garden in New York City. WSOF president and co-founder Ray Sefo, a former MMA fighter and six-time Muay Thai world champion, joined the PFL as president of fight operations and former NFL executive Peter Murray signed on as CEO of the league. 

As the league grew, it began to draw in bigger names from across the landscape of fight sports including boxers and UFC fighters. Two-time Olympic gold medalist Claressa Shields signed a three-year contract with the PFL in 2020 to compete in the women’s lightweight division and former UFC lightweight champion Anthony Pettis joined in 2021. 

In 2021, the PFL also announced a $65 million financing round, as well as the addition of former NFL running back Marshawn Lynch and rapper Wiz Khalifa as investors. The following season, the PFL Challenger Series debuted, allowing up-and-coming fighters a chance to compete for a roster spot. The league also named DraftKings as its official sportsbook and daily fantasy partner in 2022. 

In 2023, the league announced another $30 million equity round that brought former MLB star Alex Rodriguez into the fold and a new streaming deal with ESPN platforms. 

PFL’s Partnership with TicketSmarter

The PFL introduced TicketSmarter as its official ticket partner midway through the 2022 campaign. Through the partnership, TicketSmarter provides PFL fans with an easy-to-use, trusted ticketing marketplace to buy and resell tickets for upcoming fights. There are an estimated 600 million MMA fans globally and the PFL is the No. 2 MMA company worldwide.

“The Professional Fighters League is pleased to announce TicketSmarter as our official ticket marketplace,” PFL CEO Peter Murray said in the press release announcing the partnership. “The PFL prides itself on fan experience and this partnership offers millions of MMA fans a safe and secure ticketing resource.”

Graphic with red and white PFL logo over a dark background. Text below says "shop fight tickets."

PFL Format

The PFL roster begins with 72 fighters in six weight classes: heavyweight, light heavyweight, middleweight, welterweight, featherweight and women’s lightweight. 

Each fighter will have two regular season bouts of three five-minute rounds in a 10-sided cage known as the SmartCage. They will earn three points for a win, one point for a draw and zero for a loss, similar to soccer. Fighters will have the opportunity to double their points with a stoppage in the first round and earn six for the bout. A Round 2 stoppage is worth an additional two points and a Round 3 stoppage earns one extra point. 

At the end of the regular season, the top four fighters in each division will advance and point totals will determine playoff seeds. In previous years, eight fighters advanced, but they adopted the new format in 2021. The semifinals now include two three-round bouts and in the PFL Championship, fighters will compete in five five-minute rounds for the chance to win one of six million-dollar belts.

PFL 1 – April 1, 2023 on ESPN

  • Main: Brendan Loughnane vs. Marlon Moraes (FW)
  • Co-Main: Robert Wilkinson vs. Thiago Santos (LHW)

PFL 2 – April 7, 2023 on ESPN2

  • Main: Ante Delija vs. Yorgan De Castro (HW)
  • Co-Main: Larissa Pacheco vs. Julia Budd (WFW)

PFL 3 – April 14, 2023 on ESPN2

  • Main: Olivier Aubin-Mercier vs. Shane Burgos (LW)
  • Co-Main: Sadibou Sy vs. Jarrah Al-Silawi (WW)

Loughnane, Wilkinson, Delija, Pacheco, Aubin-Mercier and Sy are all 2022 World Champions in their respective weight classes. 

2023 PFL Tickets

Make sure you do not miss the next big bout. Get your PFL MMA tickets now through the league’s official ticket partner, TicketSmarter. If you are headed out of town for the fight, check out TravelPlanner for exclusive Las Vegas hotel and travel deals.