The Professional Fighters League (PFL) has released its heavyweight and women's lightweight rosters for the 2021 regular season, which begins on April 23 and will be broadcast live on ESPN2, ESPN Deportes, and ESPN+ in primetime.
Champions Ali Isaev and Kayla Harrison will kick off their campaigns on May 6, aiming to repeat their success in the previous PFL season.
The PFL championship had a dramatic ending to its 2019 edition when Isaev phenomenally managed to return from an almost certain defeat to Denis Goltsov in the heavyweight semifinals to capture the division's gold.
While both heavyweights are eyeing to get deep into the competition once again, they will face a much more laborious task this season as the presence of former UFC champion Fabricio Werdum promises one of the most challenging fight cards in the PFL's history.
Another heavyweight contender, Mohammed Usman, will be trying to replicate the feat of his brother, UFC welterweight champion Kamaru Usman, to add on to the family's legacy in the sport of MMA.
Justin Willis, Ante Delija, Hatef Moeil, Bruno Cappelozza, Brandon Sayles, and 6-foot-8 giant Renan Ferreira are the other fighters competing for the heavyweight belt.
The 2021 Heavyweight (265 lbs.) roster includes:
Who is fighting in the PFL women's lightweight division?
Current champion Kayla Harrison will once again be the leading name in the women's lightweight division. Larissa Pacheco, the 2019 runner-up, is another name confirmed to compete in the weight class this season.
Harrison, a two-time Olympian, will be challenged by a few new names, including the highly-regarded Belgian judoka Cindy Dandois, striking expert Genah Fabian, and undefeated contender Laura Sanchez.
The 2021 Women's Lightweight (155 lbs.) roster includes:
How does the PFL work?
Since its first season in 2018, the PFL has quickly established itself as the No. 2 MMA company worldwide. Opposed to most fighting organizations globally, the PFL presents MMA in a sports-season format better known to the broader audience.
The revolutionary competition setup, by MMA standards, allows individual fighters to control their own fate, fighting in a "Regular Season," "Playoffs," and "Championship" for a prize of one million dollars.
"Our fighters continue to showcase their smarts, grit, and bold personalities as we get closer and closer to the season, and we are excited to support them in their journeys with the PFL," said PFL CEO Peter Murray. "Each fighter has his or her own unique journey, and we are confident the PFL will provide them and our fans with ample opportunity for exciting matchups making it a great season."
"Everyone loves to see the big boys go out and sling the heavy leather," said PFL President of Fighter Operations, Ray Sefo. "As a former heavyweight, I'm no different. I'm also very excited to see our women's division kick off their season. We've brought in the best talent in the world to challenge Kayla and Larissa, and it will be an even more challenging season for these very talented athletes."
PFL events are broadcast live in primetime on ESPN2 and ESPN+ in the United States and distributed to 160 additional countries worldwide on premium sports networks.
The 2021 PFL Season will begin on April 23 on ESPN2, ESPN Deportes, and ESPN+ in primetime. The remaining Regular Season events will occur on April 29, May 6, June 10, June 17, and June 25.