The Professional Fighters League (PFL) has officially suspended its 2020 season due to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, PFL CEO Peter Murray told ESPN on Monday.
Breaking: PFL has suspended its entire 2020 season, with plans to pick up its season/playoff format in 2021, on ESPN. Contracted athletes will receive a monthly stipend, per PFL CEO Peter Murray. More to come on @ESPN.
— Brett Okamoto (@bokamotoESPN) April 20, 2020
ESPN’s Brett Okamoto reported the news on Twitter, writing that “PFL has suspended its entire 2020 season, with plans to pick up its season/playoff format in 2021.”
PFL, a tournament-based league with a regular season and playoffs approach to the usually season-less sport of MMA, typically begins its season in late spring. The promotion then runs regular-season events to finalize playoff brackets, awarding fighters points to determine their seeding for the year-end tournament.
According to Murray, athletes who are “contracted” by the promotion will be receiving a monthly cash stipend from the promotion in lieu of fighting during the pandemic, the most progressive approach taken by an MMA organization to date. The amount of the monthly stipend is as of yet unknown.
Without live programming, the promotion announced that it would be “creating new original programming for distribution across ESPN platforms and PFL channels” in 2020.
Murray explained the decision in a press release issued by the promotion.
“In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Professional Fighters League has rescheduled our upcoming 2020 season for Spring 2021. PFL is a global MMA league with athletes from over 25 countries, and our decision is guided by the health and safety of our fighters, fans, partners, and event personnel.
The PFL mission is to evolve and grow the sport of MMA, and we look forward to staging our unique sport-season format with Regular Season, Playoff and Championship events on ESPN platforms next year. PFL has always been focused on delivering the best made-for-TV MMA product and we will continue to deliver the most innovative fight experience going forward. Fans can also look forward to PFL elevating our roster with new championship-caliber fighter signings such as Rory MacDonald.
For the remainder of 2020, the PFL will support our fighters with a monthly cash stipend to help provide some relief during these challenging times. In addition, for sports fans who we know are looking for compelling content, the PFL will deliver new original programming across ESPN and PFL platforms.
PFL will continue to be an innovator in the world of sports.
Our thoughts are with all those impacted by the COVID-19 coronavirus.”
PFL’s decision to suspend its season in its entirety comes as the total number of confirmed global cases of COVID-19 surpasses 2,424,000, with over 760,000 cases reported in the United States alone. There have been over 166,000 confirmed international deaths to the disease, with over 40,000 in the U.S.
Michael Fiedel is The Body Lock's deputy editor, a staff writer for FloCombat, and a Russell-Rice scholarship recipient at Vanderbilt University.