When the Professional Fighters League (PFL) announced that they would be holding an off-shoot league that would feature fighters from Europe, the almost-immediate reaction was people pondering what region or continent would be on the horizon.
PFL Europe, as it would come to be known, held its inaugural season in 2023, which immediately became one of the highlights of the PFL’s landmark year. The four-event season, which featured the best fighters coming out of Europe, was indeed a massive success, and introduced the world to future household names like Dakota Ditcheva, Jakob Nedoh, Simeon Powell, and even Cedric Doumbe.
With PFL Europe’s success, the PFL has found itself a blueprint for what to do with future off-shoot regional and continental leagues as they build towards the vision of creating The Champions League of MMA.
With that, the question now is, where will the PFL head to next?
Following the massive signing of heavyweight king Francis Ngannou – which was also one of the PFL’s biggest moments of 2023 – it was made clear that the PFL already has Africa in its sights, and with good reason. Africa, for one, has become a fast-rising hotdbed for MMA talent, with the likes of Ngannou, Kamaru Usman, Israel Adesanya, Manel Kape, and others. Ngannou is set to be PFL Africa’s chairman, and while there’s no specific timetable yet, this is certainly one of the leagues to watch out for.
What was recently announced for 2024 however, is PFL (MENA) Middle East and North Africa, which is expected to hold events in key markets such as Qatar and Saudi Arabia. The Middle East has also become a steady-rising source of MMA talent, with a number of big names like Jordan’s Jarrah Al-Silawi and Saudi’s Abdullah Al-Qahtani carrying the Middle Eastern flag into the SmartCage.
Another obvious choice for a regional league would be Asia. Asia, which is widely regarded as the spiritual home of martial arts, is one of the biggest markets for MMA, with countries like Japan, China, Thailand, the Philippines, and South Korea all being home to some of the best fighters and the best fans in the world. PFL Asia would definitely open the door for a number of talents to break into the global stage.
Talking about places that produce world class fighters, it’s hard not to mention Russia, and PFL Russia would definitely be a major piece of the MMA Champions League puzzle. In each of the PFL’s five seasons, there has been a Russian in the finals, and there have been three Russian fighters to become PFL champion, including two-time titleholder Magomed Magomedkerimov.
To round out the list of potential PFL regions of interest, PFL Latin America would be a no-brainer. Countries like Brazil and Mexico have rich combat sports histories, and a spin-off league featuring talents from those countries would be a massive ace for the PFL.
Wherever the PFL ends up going next, it’s almost certain that there would be success, and ‘MMA’s Champions League’ will be one step closer to becoming a reality.