The Professional Fighters League (PFL), the fastest growing and most innovative sports league, kicked off the first PFL Challenger Series event tonight at Universal Studios, in Orlando Florida. The four-fight card was streamed exclusively on Fubo Sports, the live, free-to-consumer TV network from FuboTV Inc. (NYSE: FUBO), the leading sports-first live TV streaming platform, and featured fighters competing in the Welterweight division. At the end of the evening, the all-star judging panel, consisting of Ray Lewis, Wiz Khalifa, and Tyron Woodley, gave the first contract nod of the 2023 Challenger Series competition to Thad Jean.
In the evening’s main event, Brazilian Lucas Barbosa squared off with Itso Babulaidze of Georgia. In a tightly-contested three-round affair, it was Babulaidze who emerged victorious, banking on his striking and takedown defense to get the unanimous decision result, 30-27, 29-28, 29-28. With the win, Babulaidze improves to 3-0 in his career.
Further action on the card saw Eric Alequin of the United States match up with Thad Jean, who hails from Haiti. Utilizing a solid mix of striking and grappling, Jean dominated Alequin for three rounds to earn a clear-cut unanimous decision win, with scores of 30-27 across the board. Jean, who received high praise from MMA legend Vitor Belfort, remains undefeated and improves to 5-0 in his career while earning a highly-coveted PFL contract.
“Tonight we saw world class Welterweight action as The 2023 PFL Challenger Series kicked off,” said Ray Sefo, President of Fighter Operations of PFL. “Congratulations to Thad Jean,welcome to The PFL and the beginning of your $1 million dream.”
American Zach Juusola faced off against Jozef Wittner of Slovakia. After three exciting rounds that saw the action go back and forth, it was Juusola who earned the unanimous decision nod, getting a 30-27 score from all of the judges. The Xtreme Couture product improves his career record to 13-9.
In an intriguing matchup between two Americans, Kendy St. Louis and Nick Alley took to the PFL SmartCage in a Catchweight affair of 175 lbs. Coming in on just 24 hours’ notice, St. Louis pulled off an impressive second-round rear-naked choke submission to move to 8-4 in his career and earn his fourth win by submission.
The PFL Challenger Series action returns to Universal Studios next Friday night, February 3, with the Women’s Featherweight division. All 2023 PFL Challenger Series events stream live on primetime, exclusively on Fubo Sports leading up to the 2023 PFL Regular Season.
PFL is the #1 fastest growing company in MMA and the #2 MMA company on a worldwide basis. PFL is the only in MMA with the sports-season format, where individual fighters compete in sports-season “win and advance” meritocracy like all other major sports. The PFL fighter roster is global and world-class, with fighters from over 20 countries and 25% independently ranked in the top 25. PFL leads in technology and innovation, with its proprietary PFL SmartCage powering real-time betting and next-gen viewing experience. PFL is aired primetime live in the U.S. on ESPN and ESPN+ and in 140 countries via 25 leading broadcast and streaming partners.
Fubo Sports is the exclusive home of the PFL Challenger Series. FuboTV subscribers can stream the PFL Challenger Series plus more thrilling MMA on Fubo Sports as part of FuboTV’s subscription packages featuring 125+ leading sports, news and entertainment channels. Fubo Sports 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.