The League Will Recognize Its Best MMA Fighters and Moments from the 2019 Season in Addition to Presenting the PFL Professional of the Year Award to the Athlete that Best Exemplifies Sportsmanship in the Cage and Leadership in the Community
PFL Awards Will Be Voted on by Fans, Media, Fighters, and the League; Voting is Exclusively on Twitter from February 26 – March 1 with Winners to be Announced During the PFL Awards Show Special Airing in March on ESPN+
The Professional Fighters League (PFL), the first organization ever to present MMA through a Regular Season, Playoffs and Championship format and award one million dollars to each of the six division Champions, today announced the launch of the annual PFL Awards. The PFL Awards recognizes the league’s best fighters and moments of the year. PFL will also recognize its Professional of the Year, a fighter who best exemplifies sportsmanship in the cage and leadership in the community. Fans, media, fighters and the league will cast votes across 10 categories, with winners being unveiled during the PFL Awards Show on ESPN+ in March.
“We are excited to announce the launch of the first-ever annual PFL Awards,” said Peter Murray, CEO of the Professional Fighters League. “2019 was a record year for the PFL on ESPN, doubling our Championship audience with over 400,000 TV viewers in the U.S., and over two million globally. This success is attributed to our great fighters, many of whom had to fight five times last season for a shot at the $1 Million Dollar Championship. Through the PFL Awards, we will shine a light on the many fighter achievements and moments deserving of recognition. Our voting process is unique – fans, media, and fighters, along with the league, have a say in who brings home the awards.”
Fans can cast their vote in select categories* via the PFL Twitter page (@ProFightLeague) from February 26 – March 1. The full list of categories and nominees are as follows:
Fighter of the Year - Men | Fighter who had the best overall performance in the cage for the entirety of the season.
- Lance Palmer, Featherweight
Highlights: Palmer remains undefeated in his PFL career at 10-0, earning his second straight PFL featherweight title and million-dollar prize in convincing fashion
- Natan Schulte, Lightweight
Highlights: Schulte went a perfect 5-0 in 2019, securing his second straight PFL lightweight title and million-dollar prize in one of the best fights of the year at the 2019 PFL World Championship
- Emiliano Sordi, Light Heavyweight:
Highlights: The PFL light heavyweight champion went a perfect 5-0 in 2019 with all 5 wins by stoppage, becoming the first PFL fighter to accomplish that feat and the first MMA champion from Argentina
Fighter of the Year - Women | Fighter who had the best overall performance in the cage for the entirety of the season in the women’s lightweight division.
- Kayla Harrison:
Highlights: The 2X Olympic Judo gold medalist remained undefeated (7-0), making history as the first-ever women’s lightweight MMA champion
- Sarah Kaufman:
Highlights: Kaufman entered the 2019 PFL playoffs as the #1 seed, before her run to the championship ended at the hands of Larissa Pacheco
- Larissa Pacheco:
Highlights: Pacheco turned heads with her dominant playoff victory over the favored Sarah Kaufman and took Kayla Harrison the distance in both their fights, including the 2019 women’s lightweight title fight on New Year’s Eve
*Knockout of the Year | Best KO or TKO of the season
- John Howard KOs Ray Cooper III
- Movlid Khaybulaev flying knee vs Damon Jackson
- Ray Cooper III KOs Chris Curtis
*Submission of the Year | Best submission or technical submission of the season
- Alex Gilpin sleeps Andre Harrison
- Magomed Magomedkerimov’s guillotine choke on John Howard
- Natan Schulte 52-second choke vs. Ramsey Nijem
Professional of the Year | Fighter who used his/her platform to make a positive impact in the community, while also demonstrating character and a dedication to excellence in the cage.
- Francimar Barroso
Highlights: The PFL heavyweight owns a gym in his hometown of Rio Branco, Brazil where he works with young talent to take them off the streets and get them training in MMA
- Kayla Harrison
Highlights: The women’s lightweight champion created the Fearless Foundation to shine a light on the darkness that is child sexual abuse and to enrich the lives of survivors through education and sport. Kayla also hosted a turkey drive in Coconut Creek, FL, giving back to her community
- David Michaud
Highlights: The 2019 PFL welterweight runner-up actively gives back to youth organizations in the predominantly Native American community he grew up in
Fight of the Year | Best overall fight of the season where both fighters showed aggression and displayed top-level skills, resulting in an entertaining and competitive fight.
- PFL 2019 welterweight championship: Ray Cooper III vs David Michaud
- PFL 5: Movlid Khaybulaev vs Andre Harrison
- PFL 2019 lightweight championship: Natan Schulte vs Loik Radzhabov
*Holy S#!+ Moment of the Year | The most shocking moment of the season
- John Howard hands Ray Cooper III his first KO defeat
- Ali Isaev’s buzzer beater KO of #1 seed Denis Goltsov in the PFL heavyweight semifinals
- Movlid Khaybulaev flying knee vs Damon Jackson
Most Improved Fighter | The fighter who demonstrated the most growth in the cage from 2018 to 2019
- Natan Schulte, Lightweight
Highlights: Natan’s 2018 championship run was met with some doubt following a close playoff victory over Chris Wade. In 2019, Natan erased any potential controversy by finishing the season undefeated at 5-0, with three finishes
- Emiliano Sordi, Light Heavyweight
Highlights: Sordi exploded on the MMA scene in 2019, going from a .500 record 2018 season in which he was eliminated in the quarterfinals, to an undefeated championship season in 2019
- Rashid Yusupov, Light Heavyweight
Highlights: Yusupov’s 2018 season ended early after suffering a broken jaw. He returned in 2019 and made an impressive run to the light heavyweight semifinals, including an upset of 2018 runner up Vinny Magalhaes in the quarterfinals.
Toughest Fighter - Playoffs MVP | The fighter who showed the most grit and determination to prevail on the toughest night in MMA (PFL’s fight twice in one-night playoffs) and World Championship
- Ali Isaev, Heavyweight
Isaev shocked #1 heavyweight Denis Goltsov in the semifinals, delivering a buzzer beating KO in his second fight of the night
- David Michaud, Welterweight
The #5 seed defeated #4 John Howard and #1 Glaico Franca en route to the PFL Championship
- Loik Radzhabov, Lightweight
As the #7 seed, Loik’s path to the championship was a difficult one, securing two upset victories to advance
On Notice | Fighters to watch in 2020. New league challengers who made a big impact.
- Nikolay Aleksakhin, Welterweight
Highlights: Aleksakhin defeated Jesse Ronson by KO in a PFL new fighter showcase match, his seventh-straight win. He enters a stacked welterweight division with his eyes on the title and million-dollar prize
- Denis Goltsov, Heavyweight
Highlights: Goltsov dominated his way to the #1 seed in the heavyweight division with two straight early finish victories. In 2020, he’ll look to take the next step and raise the heavyweight title
- Brendan Loughnane, Featherweight
A marquee PFL signing, Loughnane already has two PFL wins under his belt (19-3). Now he looks to compete for the featherweight title and million-dollar prize in 2020
About Professional Fighters League
The Professional Fighters League (PFL) presents MMA for the first time in the sport-season format where individual fighters control their own destiny, competing in a regular season, playoffs, and championship. PFL’s differentiated format and exciting fights sparked breakout growth for the league. PFL events are broadcast live in primetime on ESPN2 and ESPN+ in the United States and also distributed to 160 additional countries around the world on premium sports networks.
The PFL 2020 Season features elite MMA athletes across six weight classes with each fighter having two fights during the PFL Regular Season in May, June, July, and August. The top eight fighters in each weight class advance to the single-elimination PFL Playoffs in October, where fighters must fight twice and win twice in the same night to advance to the finals. PFL Championship is New Year’s Eve with the winners of each title bout being crowned PFL World Champion of their respective weight class and earning $1 million. Viewers will be delivered next-gen stats never before seen in MMA through the PFL’s proprietary SmartCage™ platform and Cagenomics™ technology.
PFL is backed by an investor group of sports, media, entertainment, and business titans.
For more info visit www.PFLmma.com and follow PFL on Instagram (@PFLmma), Twitter (@ProFightLeague), and Facebook (/ProFightLeague).