Pro Fighters League sets 2021 return after canceled season

LAS VEGAS (AP) — The Professional Fighters League will stage its entire 2021 regular season over six events in Las Vegas beginning April 23.

The PFL announced its plans Tuesday for the coming season after canceling its entire 2020 season in April due to the coronavirus pandemic. The promotion’s fights are all carried on ESPN’s networks.

The PFL is unique among major mixed martial arts promotions with a competition format featuring a regular season and a postseason. It plans to stage its regular-season events without fans from late April to late June, and the fighters will be protected inside a bubble at a property owned by Caesars Entertainment, most likely Caesars Palace or the Rio.

The playoffs will begin in late summer, with the PFL Championship finals on New Year’s Eve.

The PFL angered some of its top fighters when it elected not to hold fights in 2020, but the promotion decided it couldn’t produce its product safely amid the pandemic. Earlier this month, two-time PFL featherweight champion Lance Palmer tweeted a threat to sue the promotion for not booking a fight for him in 2020.

Palmer wasn’t included on the PFL’s list of fighters confirmed for competition in 2021. The list includes Olympic judo gold medalist Kayla Harrison, welterweight champion Ray Cooper III and former UFC title contender Rory MacDonald.

The PFL was formed as the World Series of Fighting in 2012, changing its name to the PFL in 2017.

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