The wrath of COVID-19 on professional sports strikes again. The Professional Fighters League has pulled the plug on its entire 2020 season.
PFL CEO Peter Murray issued a statement explaining the promotion will resume operations in 2021. However, all contracted fighters will receive a monthly cash stipend in the interim.
BREAKING: Professional Fighters League Reschedules 2020 Season to 2021 Due to Ongoing COVID-19 Pandemic.
— PFL (@PFLMMA) April 20, 2020
“In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Professional Fighters League has rescheduled our upcoming 2020 season for Spring 2021,” Murray said. “PFL is a global MMA league with athletes from over 25 countries, and our decision is guided by the health and safety of our fighters, fans, partners, and event personnel.
“The PFL mission is to evolve and grow the sport of MMA, and we look forward to staging our unique sport-season format with regular season, playoff and championship events on ESPN platforms next year. PFL has always been focused on delivering the best made-for-TV MMA product, and we will continue to deliver the most innovative fight experience going forward. Fans can also look forward to PFL elevating our roster with new championship caliber fighter signings such as Rory MacDonald.”
This come son the heels of the XFL suspending operations in early April. It became the first professional sports organization casualty of the coronavirus outbreak. The PFL canceling its season is just another indication that there is no real end in sight for sports entertainment.
In MMA, the UFC has boldly predicted May 9th as the restart of their 2020 schedule. With a remote island location in his back pocket, UFC president Dana White wants to reopen sports badly.
BREAKING: UFC president Dana White says the company has turned its focus to hosting its next event on May 9 at a location TBD. He remains adamant the company will get back on schedule, and barring outside factors, intends to hold a card on May 9. **Targeted matchups** include … pic.twitter.com/HBcqC8SmH7
— Brett Okamoto (@bokamotoESPN) April 14, 2020
However, the PFL normally starts its regular season in late spring. They then quickly convert into a tournament. During the championship the winner in each weight class receives a $1 million prize. That’s a huge come up in a sport notorious for under paying its fighters.
“For the remainder of 2020, the PFL will support our fighters with a monthly cash stipend to help provide some relief during these challenging times,” Murray said. “In addition, for sports fans who we know are looking for compelling content, the PFL will deliver new original programming across ESPN and PFL platforms. PFL will continue to be an innovator in the world of sports.”
Initially, PFL put the season on hold over COVID-19 concerns. However, the promotion feels the need to support its athletes as tantamount. The world is changing rapidly for sports in the era of coronavirus.