The PFL has a few shows scattered across the calendar for the remainder of 2017, with the idea to get its proverbial feet wet before taking the plunge into its master plan. Starting in January 2018, the PFL will host a series of events throughout a season, with a K-1-styled grand prix at the end of the year to crown a champion in seven different weight classes, with each champion winning $1 million. Needless to say, everybody involved is full of vigor for the future.
“I’m crazy excited,” exclaimed Carlos Silva, President of Event Production and Business Operations for the PFL in a recent interview with Sherdog.com. “It’s really great for a lot of reasons because we’ve been working hard at doing this event at a track. We’ve worked in the past with the people in Chicago and Phoenix, which are both ISC (International Speedway Corporation) tracks like Daytona and we were able to get with the guys at Daytona to put this all together. And with us getting our first event at such an historic place that will help lead us into our opening season in January, it’s going to be a great night.”
With the fights taking place after the races on Friday and with it being outside, there is always concern of inclement weather jacking everything up or, even worse, a potential catastrophe on the racetrack. Silva, however, says he and his team have thought of everything that unless a tempest of biblical proportions rolls through Daytona, the fights will occur.
“The cage is protected so as long as we only have regular rain, we can have the fights because it’ll be under a tent. The canvas will stay dry, so other than a complete washout because of a brutal storm, everything should go smoothly. And if the weather delays the race and we know it’ll be down for a few hours, we can actually put the fights on earlier to save time.”
But Silva couldn’t help but continuously mention the immediate and long-term plans of the PFL. He’s confident that everything will go according to plan and that the new promotion will change the face of MMA forever, to give the best athletes in the world another viable option to fight for some serious money. However, with the WSOF already having been an established promotion, why did the new owners decide to start from scratch and change the name?
“I don’t think it was so much as a name change as it was a format change,” he said. “With a completely new format, that brought on a new name because it really is going to be a completely different animal altogether. The most important in the new name is ‘league’ because it really will be a league, which will officially launch in January 2018. We wanted to make sure that we created a league that is good for the fighters and this season-long tournament format is really good for the fans. The fighters all will know that they are going to fight three times in a season, they know exactly when they’ll fight and who they’ll fight so they’ll know how to stay (prepared).
“As the season progresses, the eight finalists in each weight class will go into a bracket format like the old K-1 days and from there, we will crown a champion in December,” he added. “We will have seven weight classes from bantamweight to heavyweight and the winner of each bracket will win $1 million. We think it’s epic for MMA and, more importantly, the fighters. Like any good league, we will stay light on our feet and make the adjustments that are good for the fighters and keep it running smoothly throughout the year.”
When the announcement of the PFL’s existence came to light, one promotion many cynics have pointed to was one that came on top of stacks of money, a world-changing vision and a season-long format. The International Fight League last just over two years, so why will the PFL be any different?
“I don’t there’s any comparison, really” he said. “They had done some stuff with a public company and I don’t know how they were funded. They had a team concept but our fighters will fight as individual athletes who aren’t a part of a team. The IFL was a long time ago and I don’t think there’s any comparison. The PFL is something completely different with a lot more that will benefit the athletes.”
Many in the sport hope to see the PFL succeed. Friday will be its soft opening, of sorts, a litmus test to see where they stand before unloading their grandiose plan in January and if everything goes as planned, fighters disgruntled with one promotion or another will have a viable option to fight some of the best competition there is.
PFL 1 will be televised live on NBCSN immediately following the Xfinity Series Coca-Cola Firecracker 250. The promotion expects to have its first bout sometime around 10:30 p.m. ET/7:30 p.m. PT.