PFL and similar promotions could grow tremendously due to UFC cuts
Last week, UFC fan-favorite Anthony “Showtime” Pettis signed a deal with the Professional Fighters League amid major cuts announced by the UFC.
The former UFC Lightweight champion took to Twitter to announce his parting ways with the promotion and his recent signing with PFL. This came shortly after UFC President Dana White announced that more than 60 fighters would be cut before the end of 2020.
“We are going to go through some serious cuts here at the end of the year,” White said in the UFC Vegas 16 press conference. “We’re probably going to have 60 cuts before the first of the year. These are (the) tough decisions you have to make.”
This comment came after cutting former champion Yoel Romero after spending nearly 8 years with the promotion.
Although Pettis was never cut from the UFC, the promotion likely came to him with their plans for the future and that it didn't include him. So, in efforts to make a good PR move, Pettis made his announcements to step away from the UFC. Now, it could be that Pettis had planned on moving on before the idea of cuts was thrown around, but that is less likely.
Either way, it is good to see Pettis still able to fight, especially since he won two of his three fights in 2020 and has had a bit of a resurgence as of late. He plans on taking the 2020 momentum and wasting no time at his new gig.
“I’m looking to make a run at another world championship, and the PFL format will allow me to do that in 12 months and do it again the following year at 170 pounds,” Pettis told ESPN’s Ariel Helwani. “Ready for a new chapter and a fresh start. Gonna be a fun ride.”
Not only is this signing good for Pettis, but it is very good for the PFL who is looking to make a statement in 2021.
“Not only is Anthony a transcendent athlete within the sport of MMA, but he is also an innovator in the cage who is known for his charismatic fighting style and determination to win,” PFL CEO Peter Murray said in a press release. “…[W]e’re excited for him to join the PFL family.”
With this signing, we may see PFL as a top destination for a lot of mid-level fighters who are leaving the UFC. Although the PFL is fairly new, starting its new regular season and playoff format in 2019, a lot of fighters like Pettis will want a new start on a fresh scene.
Other promotions like LFA, Invicta FC, Absolute Championship Berkut, and many others are gaining viewership and will likely see this as an excellent opportunity.
With the UFC, Bellator, and ONE Championship being at the helm of fight promotions, many other companies are looking to sign big talent and grow as much as possible. PFL is on this trajectory by signing Pettis and probably some more free agents in the coming weeks.
As the cuts come in, we will see who goes where and what other promotions will benefit. Obviously, the UFC isn’t going anywhere, but with a plethora of smaller promotions that still get a considerable amount of views, this is a huge opportunity.