PFL vs. UFC - What are the differences between the two MMA promotions?

Claressa Shields at a PFL event (left), Valentina Shevchenko at UFC 275 (right)
Claressa Shields at a PFL event (left), Valentina Shevchenko at UFC 275 (right)

The biggest difference between the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) and the Professional Fighters League (PFL) is that the PFL is structured in seasons. In other words, it does not have the conventional year-round event and rankings system that the UFC uses.

Fighters within the PFL compete in a league-style format, which sees them earn points based on the results of their bouts. The top four fighters with the most points per division will then enter the play-off stages.

Fighters get three points for a win and none for a loss. They can also earn bonus points if they finish the fight via knockout or submission – a finish in round one earns three bonus points, round two earns two, and round three earns one. No bonus points are awarded for a win via decision.

Besides the major differences between how the UFC and the PFL are structured, the two organizations also use different cages for their fights. The PFL doesn't use an octagon but instead uses a SmartCage, which has 10 sides.

The PFL does have a similar recruitment scheme to the UFC, with a weekly show called PFL Challenger Series being very similar to Dana White's Contender Series. The winners of the Challenger Series earn a spot in the PFL tournament.

Watch highlights from the PFL Challenger Series below:


The Ultimate Fighting Championship format is obviously a lot simpler to understand, with a basic rankings system similar to many other combat sports. The rankings system usually determines who gets the next title shot in each division and also helps with matchmaking.

However, the PFL's main audience is American and so its format is much more similar to American sports. Fighters from the two organizations rarely cross paths. That said, former UFC lightweight champion Anthony Pettis signed for the PFL ahead of the 2021 season, which was a major signing for the organization.

Where is the next UFC event?

The next Ultimate Fighting Championship event will take place this weekend in Austin, Texas. The headline bout is Calvin Kattar vs. Josh Emmett and the show is the first promotional event to be held at the Moody Center.

The card is full of interesting matchups, with household names like Donald Cerrone and Joe Lauzon, and exciting fighters like Kevin Holland and Joaquin Buckley all competing at the event.

Julian Marquez takes on Gregory Rodrigues in the opening fight of the main card. Marquez famously asked out Miley Cyrus in a post-fight interview, which went viral and caught the attention of the singer via social media.

Another notable fighter is Kyle Daukaus, who is the younger brother of heavyweight contender Chris Daukaus. He takes on Roman Dolidze and is hoping to make it back-to-back victories in the organization for the first time in his career.

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Edited by Aziel Karthak
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