2019 PFL Heavyweight Champ Ali Isaev Hopes to be Released: ‘I Need Stability’

By: Tristen Critchfield
Aug 25, 2020

Add Ali Isaev to the list of fighters who is unhappy with Professional Fighters League’s decision to suspend its entire season until 2021.

Isaev, who earned a $1 million prize as the PFL’s 2019 champion, revealed to RT Sport that he would prefer that the organization release him so he can fight elsewhere before the conclusion of 2020. Isaev turns 37 in December and acknowledges that he has a limited time left to compete, which is why he would like to remain as active as possible.

“I’ll be 37 soon. That’s why I wanted the PFL either to give me a fight or let me go, so that I can fight in other promotions before the end of the year,” he said. “Because I can’t wait and take a big break, I want to compete. Time goes by and I have to find new opportunities to make a statement and fight against the top guys.”

While PFL cut a number of fighters following its announcement, those that remain under contract are supposed to receive a monthly cash stipend to support them for the remainder of the year. That stipend is reportedly $1,000 a month, which has put other fighters such as featherweight Lance Palmer, at odds with the PFL.

Isaev, though, doesn’t necessarily have animosity toward the PFL and he wouldn’t rule out a return if granted his release.

“To be honest, the PFL gave me a chance to make myself known, they're a very nice organization,” he said. “If they let me go, maybe I’ll come back later -- why not? That’s where I got my start. It would be great if they could understand my situation and made a choice that would work for me. Stability, I need stability.”

Isaev is now 9-0 as a professional following a run through the PFL playoffs that saw him best Kelvin Tiller, Denis Goltsov and Jared Rosholt. If given the opportunity, the Dagestani heavyweight would like to test himself in the UFC.

“Of course I’d love to fight in the UFC, if the PFL lets me go,” Isaev said. “They’re putting on events despite the pandemic. I think other organizations aren’t putting on such good events now. Maybe they don’t have the same resources as the UFC, but today I only see UFC fights. I’d love to fight their top fighters. I’m not picky, I’ll fight anyone they give me.

“My age doesn’t let me pick an opponent. When you’re young you have to make the right choices. I saw how many young guys rushed too much. They were doing well but then stumbled after making the wrong decision, or they were misadvised. They wanted a fast rise to stardom. We have this saying, ‘He who makes haste makes everyone laugh.’ But I’m already 9-0, I don’t really need to gain experience. I have to do my job. Whatever happens, happens, but we’ll be working hard with no excuses and striving to win.”

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