Silva: American Fans Love Seasons

The Professional Fighters League will give MMA fans what they've been missing: a postseason

The DA Show
November 01, 2018 - 2:00 pm

USA Today Images

Video of Pro Fight League President Carlos Silva on unique playoff format

MMA is one of the fastest-growing sports in the world, but it doesn’t have something that sports fans love: a postseason.

Well, now it does.

The Professional Fighters League (PFL) has adopted a traditional sports schedule: a regular season, a playoffs, and a championship event, which will be held Dec. 31.

“We really think that fans, especially here in America, understand the season,” PFL CEO Carlos Silva said on The DA Show. “Around the world, they understand a season, whether it’s soccer, whether it’s hockey. So we looked at MMA and we looked at what the fighters needed, and we started to think about how that regular season would play out and how the fighters would transfer in into the playoffs.”

Here’s the setup: 

Seventy-two fighters will compete across six weight classes: featherweight (145), lightweight (155), welterweight (170), middleweight (185), light heavyweight (205) and heavyweight (265). Fighters will earn points throughout the regular season for wins, as well as first-, second- and third-round finishes. Eight fighters from each weight class will advance to the postseason.

Ten million dollars will be awarded after the championships, with $1 million going to each of the six winners.

“It’s fight, win, or go home,” Silva explained. “You advance and you control your destiny. You move from the quarters to the semis to the championship bout on Dec. 31. We really think we put all the nice things together. Of these 72 fighters that we’ve got, six of them at the end of the year are going to be millionaires. It’s a pretty exciting format, and so far the fighters have really embraced it.” 

DA believes the PFL will fill an MMA need. After all, playoffs and brackets define how Americans consume sports.

“I agree that Americans love it,” Silva said, “but you look at the World Cup: Once you advance past the round robin, you make it into a traditional bracket. At the end of the day, when you advance from eight to the final four to the championship fight, someone is going to win. Nobody can argue who won or lost. You both went into the cage, and one person is going to come out a winner. If you and I fight, we go in, and everybody – every fan – knows that one of us is going to win. We’re going to win based on what we do in the cage. I think everybody – every sports fan – loves that.”

The PFL will feature fighters from more than a dozen countries, including the United States, Russia, Brazil, and Germany. The regular season begins Thursday, June 7, at Madison Square Garden in New York City.