After an inaugural year that had more than its fair share of surprises, Professional Fighters League has now announced some of their acquisitions for their upcoming 2019 tournaments.
ESPN.com has revealed some of the additions to the 2019 roster, along with some details regarding dates and event times. Most of the events will be taking place on the East Coast this year, with the season premiering on May 9th from Uniondale, NY at the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum.
The first notable name to appear on the list is Hawaiian welterweight Ray cooper (17-6), who decimated Jake Shields twice in a row to punch a ticket to the finals. Sadly, the Cinderella story was not to be completed for Cooper, as he ended up losing to Magomed Magomedkerimov via guillotine choke in the finals. He’ll be joined by his cousin Zane Kamaka (13-3) who is also a welterweight, in what could make for some awkward family reunions depending on how this goes.
Former World Series of Fighting champion Smealinho Rama (11-5, 1 draw) returns to light heavyweight, and will be joined by former UFC fighter Jordan Johnson (10-0). Johnson (interviewed by BE’s own Nick Baldwin here) is one of the more surprising names here, considering he went 4-0 in the UFC, ending his tenure there with an arm-triangle choke win over Adam Yandiev last September. The MMA Lab prospect opted to sign with PFL to get a shot at the million, and should be a menace in that division.
Featherweight Andre Harrison (20-1) returns to the PFL field, having been bounced from title contention by eventual winner Lance Palmer in October with a decision loss. Former UFC fighters Chris Wade (14-5) and Alex Nicholson (13-7) also return at lightweight and heavyweight, respectively. Sweden’s Sadibou Sy (7-4, 1 draw) returns at middleweight, and hard-hitting Kelvin “The Mama’s Boy“ Tiller (10-2) comes back to heavyweight.
Former UFC fighter David Michaud (15-4) bounced around in Titan, LFA, and Bellator after his UFC run, but now has a chance to make a run at the million in the welterweight division. Former M-1, Tech-Krep, ProFC and ACB fighter Denis Goltsov (22-5) joins the fray at heavyweight, and could be a favorite to win it all.
CES champ Nate “The Snake“ Andrews (15-1) has been way overdue for a shot at a bigger stage, and his submission savvy and finishing instincts may take him far in the PFL lightweight division. We’ll find out soon, as he’s been picked up in what could very well be their best signing off the regional scene. Also, we have Luis Rafael Laurentino, a 26-year-old fighting on the Brazilian circuit that has already carved out a 33-1 record. His record has a fair amount of finishes, but not much in the way of notable names or established veteran talent.
Finally, Canberra’s own Glory and K-1 veteran Ben Edwards (4-0) will be bringing his striking pedigree to the PFL cage.
Ready for Thursdays on ESPN2 and @ESPN+ starting May 9! #ChangingTheGame https://t.co/m7CFd6t4mk pic.twitter.com/4k3E8z7xa3— #PFLmma (@ProFightLeague) March 21, 2019
Also, now that PFL has signed with ESPN, the days of watching prelims on Facebook are over. Cards will be available on ESPN 2/ESPN Deportes, as well as ESPN+. Playoffs begin on October 11th, with the finals to take place on New Year’s Eve on ESPN 2.