PFL announces April 23 kickoff for next season on ESPN platforms

    The PFL is getting back to business starting next spring.

    The tournament-based promotion on Tuesday announced a return to action with its 2021 season, starting with an event on April 23, one year after the suspension of its third season due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

    The April 23 event airs on ESPN2, ESPN Deportes and ESPN+. There are five other dates for the regular season: April 29, May 6, June 10, June 17, and June 25. Details on the event’s location and venue were not released.

    Among those announced by the promotion to return to the PFL cage: Season 2 lightweight champ Kayla Harrison; Season 2 welterweight champion Ray Cooper III; former UFC and Bellator star Rory MacDonald; UFC vets Johnny Case and Olivier Aubin-Mercier; and former Bellator standout and Brave FC featherweight champion Bubba Jenkins.

    Notably absent from the list is two-time featherweight champ Lance Palmer, whose reps recently threatened a lawsuit if the promotion did not release him from contract amid a dispute over inactivity.

    Per the promotion, the first three events of the upcoming season will allow fighters to earn points for post-season play, while the final three will determine seeds for $1 million dollar tournaments held across six weight classes. Keeping with tradition, the finals will take place on New Year’s Eve. Previous PFL regular seasons have run over seven events.

    Since shutting its doors, the PFL has paid athletes a stipend during the slowdown caused by the pandemic. That hasn’t kept fighters from speaking out about the promotion’s business practices, namely the decision to delay the return to business after the UFC and Bellator have done so.

    In a press release, PFL CEO Peter Murray said the promotion looks forward to rebuilding momentum.

    “Our champions return looking to earn another title, while a fresh crop of exciting new fighters will challenge for the top spot in MMA,” he stated in a press release. “Additional contenders will be unveiled in the lead up to what we believe will be the biggest season in PFL history.”

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