The Professional Fighters League (PFL), the fastest growing and most innovative sports league, today announced the first group of 2023 PFL Challenger Series competitors who will face off in the Welterweight division. The eight-night competition will stream exclusively on Fubo Sports Network, the live, free-to-consumer TV network from FuboTV Inc. (NYSE: FUBO), the leading sports-first live TV streaming platform. The Challenger Series airs live on Friday nights, beginning January 27 in primetime through March 17, with fighters competing for the opportunity to earn a PFL contract and the potential to compete for a world championship and the $1 million winner’s purse.
The main event of the 2023 PFL Challenger Series Welterweight card will see Lucas “Hulk” Barbosa, a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu star who holds a grappling victory over Gilbert Burns, look to make the transition to MMA. He stands across the PFL SmartCage from Itso Babulaidze who won his PFL debut by knockout and trains out of Renzo Gracie Philly.
“The 2023 PFL Challenger Series provides world class talent a path to the PFL,” said PFL President of Fighter Operations Ray Sefo. “The Challenger Series continues the PFL’s commitment to finding the best talent in MMA around the world.”
“Each of the PFL Challenger Series fighters has a unique story our audience cares about,” said Pamela Duckworth, head of Fubo Networks and originals, FuboTV. “Each week, they bring unmatched energy and passion to keep fans tuning in for more. We can’t wait to see what the Welterweights bring to the cage and kick off another PFL Challenger Series on Fubo Sports Network.
Undefeated CFFC Welterweight Champion, Eric Alequin will face Thad ”Silverback” Jean. Jean, also undefeated, has competed in CFFC and LFA, and boasts a victory over former PFL Challenger Series contract winner and 2022 PFL Challenger Series alumni Dilano Taylor.
Current Jungle Fights Welterweight Champion Quemuel “Manumito” Ottoni, the only man to defeat current UFC Middleweight Champion Alex Pereira, puts his 5-fight win streak on the line against Jozef Wittner. Wittner enters the SmartCage with 11 stoppages while riding a four-fight winning streak.
Mostafa Rashed Neda, a judo specialist on a three-fight win streak, will face off against Nicholas Alley, who has earned 5 of his 7 career wins by submission and boasts an 86% stoppage rate.
Each week fighters from around the world will compete for a PFL contract for the 2023 PFL Regular Season or enter a developmental path with the league in hopes of joining a future PFL Regular Season.
PFL contract winners will be determined by a judging panel, comprised of combat sports champions and celebrity guests.
PFL is the first and only MMA league with a true sports-season format where elite fighters from around the world compete in a Regular Season, Playoffs and Championship. The four competitors in each division who earn the most points in the Regular Season advance to the win-or-go-home Playoffs, followed by the biggest night in MMA – the PFL World Championship – with each winner going home with the $1 million prize.
Professional Fighters League is the No. 2 MMA company globally and features an elite talent roster. PFL has live event coverage in 160 countries on leading distribution platforms and delivers a unique, innovative product to MMA fans around the world.
Fubo Sports Network is the exclusive home of the PFL Challenger Series. FuboTV subscribers can stream the PFL Challenger Series plus more thrilling MMA on Fubo Sports Network as part of FuboTV’s subscription packages featuring 125+ leading sports, news and entertainment channels. Fubo Sports Network is also available for free on Amazon Freevee, LG Channels, Samsung TV Plus, The Roku Channel, Vizio WatchFree+, Tubi, Plex, and XUMO with even more fresh content across Instagram, TikTok, Twitch, Twitter and YouTube.