By Michael Angelo S. Murillo, Senior Reporter
IN just a short time, United States-based Professional Fighters League (PFL) has positioned itself as a mixed martial arts organization of note, and it is looking to further its growth and showcase its brand of combat sports action to more areas in the world.
Founded by former fighter Ray Sefo in 2017, the PFL takes pride in being an innovative player in the sport, allowing it to make inroads in its push to put out quality events and capture its fair share of fight fans.
“The Professional Fighters League in just two years has become the fastest-growing and most innovative sports league in the world. Since its inception in 2017, the PFL has been responsible for building some of the biggest stars in the MMA world, and we’re only getting started,” said PFL vice-president of communications Loren Mack in an online interview with BusinessWorld.
The PFL boasts of a unique format, featuring a regular season, a playoffs and a finals, similar to that employed in sports like baseball, basketball and football.
“[It’s structured] that way so the fighters are rewarded for their performances and their accomplishments, rather than just because of matchups. It makes the league fighter-friendly. The format is also quite fan-friendly, because the fans can easily follow along with their favorite fighters’ progress,” said Mr. Mack.
In the PFL, fighters, too, have a chance to win a purse of a million dollars.
The league was steadily ascending in its first two years until its push was stymied in 2020 by the coronavirus pandemic.
But despite the difficulty, the PFL still managed to put out quality content across various platforms.
“Well, obviously we had to postpone our 2020 season, but that hardly meant that we didn’t come up with content. In 2020, the PFL embraced digital by launching an OTT (over-the-top) platform and mobile app that gives fans all over the world access to exclusive and premium PFL content,” said the PFL official.
To help it in this thrust, the group put up the PFL Studios last year. It is responsible for creating original content such as weekly programs and short form features.
Having survived 2020 and adapted with the varying conditions, the PFL is now girding for more activities and engagements moving forward.
It is setting its sights on kicking off its 2021 season in April in a “bubble” setting to safeguard the health and safety of the fighters and staff since the coronavirus is still a concern.
The PFL is also positioning to get its planned expansion to different parts of the world going, including in the Philippines, which Mr. Mack describes as home to some of the passionate and knowledgeable fight fans in the world.
“As soon as the pandemic dissipates, expect the PFL to ramp up its efforts to expand all over the globe. Recently, we were able to secure broadcast deals in Russia and India, and you can be sure that we’re working on securing deals in other countries in Asia, such as the Philippines. Once it’s safe to put on live shows all over the world again, expect us to work towards bringing the PFL cage to Philippine shores,” said Mr. Mack, who is no stranger to the mixed martial arts (MMA) scene in Asia, having worked as an executive for one of the top promotions in the region in the past.
“You can expect the Philippines to be one of the PFL’s main targets. I’ve seen how crazy the Filipino fans are when it comes to MMA, and with the PFL, they’re going to get amazing MMA action from the best fighters in the world, and it’s going to be presented in a format that Filipino sports fans will all appreciate,” he added.
Of late, the PFL has been shoring up its roster of fighters, signing up former Ultimate Fighting Championship stars like Fabricio Werdum and Anthony Pettis as well as other talents from different parts of the world.