LAS VEGAS, NEVADA – April 1, 2023 – The Professional Fighters League (PFL), the fastest growing and most innovative sports league, returned to action with the highly anticipated 2023 PFL Regular Season, live from the The Theater at Virgin Hotels, Las Vegas. The eleven-fight card featured the Featherweight and Light Heavyweight divisions, with statement wins from Brendan Loughnane, Rob Wilkinson, Marthin Hamlet and Joshua Silveria.
The night’s main event saw 2022 PFL Featherweight Champion Brendan Loughnane begin his quest for a second straight PFL Featherweight title defeating Marlon Moraes by second round TKO. Loughnane punished Moraes with a barrage of leg kicks en route to the stoppage victory and five points in the Featherweight standings.
In the evening’s co-main event, 2022 PFL Light Heavyweight Champion Robert Wilkinson battled Thiago “Marreta” Santos. The hard-hitting Wilkinson relied on his grappling and takedowns to defeat Santos by unanimous decision, 29-28 on all of the judges’ scorecards. Wilkinson earned three points in the Light Heavyweight division standings.
Light Heavyweight action continued with two fighters making their PFL Regular Season debuts in Krzysztof Jotko and Will Fleury. In a back and forth affair, Fleury outlasted Jotko by split decision, 29-28, 29-28, 28-28. The SBG Ireland product and teammate of Conor McGregor earned three points in the Light Heavyweight standings and improved his career record to 12-3.
“Tonight the Professional Fighters League returned to Regular Season action, where every fight is a step towards a PFL World Championship and $1million dollar prize,” said PFL CEO Peter Murray. “The atmosphere at the The Theater at Virgin Hotels, Las Vegas was electric and the PFL’s elite athletes delivered non-stop action for MMA fans around the world.”
“The kickoff to the 2023 PFL Regular Season delivered thrilling action from our Featherweight and Light Heavyweight divisions in Las Vegas,” said Ray Sefo, President of Fighter Operations at PFL. “The unique PFL season format makes each fight a must win and must watch, we can’t wait to see what’s in store next Friday when our Women’s Featherweights and Heavyweights take to the PFL SmartCage.”
2021 PFL Featherweight Champion Movlid Khaybulaev returned to action to take on 2022 PFL Semifinalist Ryoji Kudo. Khaybulaev dominated Kudo on the ground for three rounds winning a unanimous decision, 30-27 on all the judges’ scorecards. The former champion remains undefeated at 20-0-1, and earned three points in the PFL Featherweight standings.
A highly anticipated rematch between Chris Wade and Bubba Jenkins kicked off the main card on ESPN. Jenkins used his high-level wrestling ability to take Wade to the ground and earn a unanimous decision victory, 30-27 across the board. Jenkins evens the score with Wade, and earns three points in the Featherweight standings.
Rounding out the undercard on ESPN+ 2021 PFL Light Heavyweight Runner-Up Marthin Hamlet kicked off his 2023 PFL Regular Season against PFL newcomer Mohammad Fakhreddine. Hamlet put on a grappling clinic, needing just 65 seconds to submit Fakhreddine with a face crank. The win gave Hamlet six points in the Light Heavyweight standings, and improved his record to 11-4.
Further action saw an intriguing Light Heavyweight matchup between 2022 PFL Semifinalist Joshua Silveira and Sam Kei. Silveira was nothing short of dominant, as he needed 2:46 of the opening round to submit Kei by rear naked choke and pick up six points in the standings and move to 10-1 in his career.
Featherweight division action continued with Mexico’s Alejandro Flores, and league newcomer Daniel Torres. Flores pushed the pace and outworked Torres with his striking and takedowns to earn the unanimous decision win, 29-28 across the judges’ scorecards. Flores picked up three points in the featherweight standings, and improved to 22-4 in his career.
In PFL Featherweight action Brazil’s Gabriel Braga took on Peru’s Jesus Pinedo. Braga, 9-0, entered the contest with his last win in the PFL Challenger Series, while Pinedo entered the contest riding a four-fight winning streak. Pinedo got off to a strong start, but Braga rallied back to take a close split decision victory, 29-28, 29-28, 28-29. With the win, Braga earned three points in the PFL Featherweight standings and remained undefeated in his career at 10-0.
In the first official 2023 PFL Regular Season bout, 2022 PFL Semifinalist Delan Monte squared off against PFL newcomer Ty Flores in a Light Heavyweight contest. The two battled back-and-forth for three rounds, but in the end it was Flores who picked up the unanimous decision win, 29-28, 29-28, 29-27. Flores improved to 12-4 in his career, and earned three points in the PFL Light Heavyweight standings.
Kicking off the card on ESPN+ was a Showcase Bout between Cory Hendricks and 2023 Challenger Series contract winner, Impa Kasanganay. Kasanganay, who took home a PFL contract in Week 7 of the Challenger Series, cruised to a unanimous decision win over Hendricks, 30-27, 29-28, 29-28. With the win, Kasanganay improved his record to 12-3.
The PFL action returns to The Theater at Virgin Hotels, Las Vegas on Friday, April 7 with Women’s Featherweight and Heavyweight action. 2022 Women’s Lightweight Champion Larissa Pacheco matches up with PFL newcomer Julia Budd, while 2021 PFL Heavyweight Champion Bruno Cappelozza looks to start the season with a victory over 2022 PFL Heavyweight Runner-Up, Matheus Scheffel.
All PFL 2023 Season events are live in primetime on ESPN, ESPN2/ESPN+ and ESPN Deportes, as well as on a wide and diverse group of premier global distribution partner platforms reaching 160 countries around the world.