The next set of millionaires in the Professional Fighters League will begin their journey at NYCB Live’s Nassau Coliseum in May.
PFL will establish what CEO Peter Murray called a “mini residency” by hosting the first three events of Season 2 at the renovated Long Island venue.
“We’re excited to be coming back to Long Island. We had a great experience there last year. We were there with two events and it really showed Long Islanders like to get their fight on,” Murray told Newsday. “We feel like we’re a home team for those Long Island fight fans.”
The events will be held May 9, May 23 and June 6. (The remaining three regular-season events will take place at Ocean Resort Casino in Atlantic City.) Freeport’s Andre Harrison and Islip’s Chris Wade both are expected to return after reaching the semifinals of PFL’s inaugural season last year. This year’s roster will be revealed in stages through April 1. Ticket sales for the general public begin March 15, with presales for select groups starting March 11.
“Before the summer months kick in and people are changing their habits and their patterns, we think Thursday nights is destination MMA and it’s destination MMA at NYCB Live,” Murray said.
PFL’s format is unique to mixed martial arts. It features a regular season, playoffs and championship night, with $1 million going to each champion. Fighters earn points based on how and in which round they win, with the top point-getters advancing to the playoffs.
“There is no undercard,” Murray said. “Every fight leads to something.”
This year’s fights will air on ESPN2 and ESPN Deportes and stream on ESPN+, giving the league greater exposure than last year’s broadcast partners NBCSN and Facebook Watch.
“Their partnership with ESPN, bringing it on to that platform, elevates the Coliseum, NYCB Live. It further grows our brand. It puts Long Island again on the national map,” said Nick Vaerewyck, NYCB Live’s vice president of programming. “PFL, last year when we had them, it was a great event. It did really well for us, and it seemed like the Island was excited to have them here, so we’re definitely excited to bring them back.”
There will be six weight classes again this season, with one notable change: the inclusion of the women’s lightweight division featuring Kayla Harrison, a two-time Olympic gold medalist in judo. There will be no middleweight division this season, but reigning champion and millionaire, Louis Taylor, will compete at welterweight. Four other Season 1 champions will compete in Season 2.
Each event will showcase two weight classes, allowing for Long Islanders to see every fighter in the PFL compete once. This mini residency also allows for unique ticket packaging for MMA, something akin to season tickets like in other sports. Murray also said last year’s events at the Coliseum helped give rise to their new PFL Cageside Club, a new VIP experience for fans who purchase floor seats in that area.
“We’re excited to continue to deliver the product, the experience, to fans here and really call it our home,” Murray said.
The Coliseum has hosted four MMA events since the sport was legalized in 2016, one each by UFC and Bellator and two by the PFL.
“We keep feeding the demand,” Vaerewyck said, “and the Island responds really well to it.”