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The ‘disruption’ continues with the next Challenger series

Pro Fighters League Founder and President Donn Davis was totally chill until he started talking about his league’s next Challenger Series. Then he came to life, his voice rising in excitement, as if he was launching a Hollywood script.

“If you win a Challenger Series contract, you become a real-world Rocky. You can go from street to penthouse in a year,” Davis said.

The Challenger Series – the latest product of the season-based PFL – will debut on February 18. Its eight events will air on fuboTV on consecutive Friday nights and run through April.

Each event will feature “undiscovered” fighters competing for a PFL contract, and that’s why Davis is so pumped. “We know what it takes to win a fight,” he said. “We want to know what it takes to be a star.”

A celebrity guest will help find the next star by voting for contract winners. Celebrities include boxing icon Mike Tyson, Saturday Night Live’s Kenan Thompson, actress Sarah Shahi and NFL Hall of Famer Ray Lewis. MMA legends Vitor Belfort and Tyron Woodley will also get a vote. And fans will have their say by voting on Twitter for fighters deserving of a deal.

The Challenger Series, Davis said, is part of the continued industry disruption of the PFL, which has become the first fighting league to run a season format and has also innovated with its SmartCage technology that tracks data and real-time hunter performance analytics.

Davis said the Challenger series will also provide “an immersive gaming experience”, in addition to being “visually entertaining” with a “dynamic and gritty” production style.

He made a point of comparing the PFL’s Challenger Series to “Dana White’s Contender Series” – an ESPN+ show that features up-and-coming unsigned fighters.

“It’s not your dad’s Contender Series. It will make the UFC show boring and stale,” Davis said, adding that unlike the UFC show, Challenger Series winners will have a chance to compete against the best in the PFL.

“There is no BS, no politics,” he said. “You get a contract and have a chance to win a million dollars.”

No more PFL disturbances…

The PFL recently marked a broadcast coup by announcing that the entire 2022 PFL Qualifiers and the majority of regular season events will be shown live on ESPN and simulcast on ESPN+ with coverage additional events on ESPN2.

ESPN platforms will air pre- and post-event coverage and exclusive PFL content similar to last year’s four-part series on boxing queen Claressa Shields’ PFL debut and her pursuit to become world champion mma.

Davis said the league will soon announce “premium free distribution” in major global markets outside of the United States. “And it will also be non-pay TV, so we will continue to replicate our ESPN model around the world,” he said.

Davis said the PFL will launch its first pay-per-view event in 2022 and then expand with multiple PPVs in 2023.

And, for 2022, Davis expects the league’s boldest move to be financial: “It will be a breakthrough year for our business. With all the new deals, all the media deals, all the sponsorship deals, PFL will arrive as a growing business in 2022, with 5x revenue growth.”

And a big chunk of growth will start in a few days, with Challenger Series.