The Professional Fighters League (PFL) announced on February 9, 2021 its heavyweight and women’s lightweight rosters for the 2021 regular season, which will premiere on April 23, 2021. Events throughout the season will be on ESPN2, ESPN+ and ESPN Deportes in primetime.
After the premiere, the remaining 2021 PFL Season events will take place on April 29, 2021, on May 6, 2021, on June 10, 2021, on June 17, 2021 and on June 25, 2021. The 2021 PFL heavyweight (265 lbs.) roster includes:
- Bruno Cappelozza
- Ante Delija
- Renan Ferreira
- Denis Goltsov
- Ali Isaev
- Hatef Moeil
- Brandon Sayles
- Mohammed Usman
- Justin Willis
- Fabricio Werdum
The reigning PFL Heavyweight Champion is Ali Isaev (Али Исаев), 37, of Moscow, Russia. His miraculous comeback in the semifinals against Denis “The Russian Bogatyr” Goltsov (Денис Гольцов), 30, of St. Petersburg, Russia propelled him to gold in 2019.
While Goltsov returns for another crack at the PFL strap, he will also have to contend with one of the greatest heavyweights to ever compete in mixed martial arts. Former Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) champion Fabricio “Vai Cavalo” Werdum, 43, of Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil will be the big favorite heading into the 2021 season but he is far from the only challenger in the division.
UFC Welterweight Champion Kamaru Usman‘s brother Mohammed “The Motor” Usman, 31, of Nigeria has his sights set on adding to the family’s legacy in the sport of MMA. Also in the heavyweight roster are Justin “Big Pretty” Willis, 33, of California, USA, Ante “Walking Trouble” Delija, 30, of Dubrovnik, Croatia, Renan “Problema” Ferreira, 31, of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Hatef “Boss” Moeil, 34, of Düsseldorf, Germany, Bruno Cappelozza, 31, of Sao Paulo, Brazil and Brandon “Man of War” Sayles, 39, of Hawaii, USA.
“Everyone loves to see the big boys go out and sling the heavy leather,” PFL fighter operations president Ray Sefo said. “As a former heavyweight I’m no different.”
Founded in 2017, the PFL has quickly established itself as the number 2 MMA company in the world. The league has experienced tremendous YoY growth across digital channels, 68 percent follower increase on Instagram, 30 percent total audience growth across digital and a 200 percent social engagement spike.
Domestic linear viewing audience was up 43 percent in 2019. The championship on New Year’s Eve surpassed 500,000 viewers, a 65 percent YoY increase.