PFL Announces 2023 Heavyweight Challenger Series

Challenger Series gives MMA athletes an opportunity to pursue a world championship and $1 million prize

The Professional Fighters League (PFL), announced the 2023 PFL Challenger Series Heavyweight competitors and bouts. The PFL Challenger Series is an eight-night competition that will stream exclusively on Fubo Sports, the live, free-to-consumer TV network from FuboTV Inc., the leading sports-first live TV streaming platform.

The PFL Challenger Series airs live on Friday nights, beginning January 27 in primetime through March 17, and is held on the backlot of Universal Studios Florida in Orlando, Florida, with fighters looking to earn the opportunity to compete for a world championship and $1 million winner’s purse. 

The main event of the Heavyweight card will see Giacomo Lemos and Danilo Marques, two Brazilians, match up in the PFL SmartCage for a bout that’s sure to bring fireworks. Lemos previously fought in the 2022 PFL Challenger Series and will look to continue his winning ways after he earned an impressive victory via knockout in his debut. Marques fights out of Sao Paulo and trains at Vila da Luta, the same gym as Demian Maia and Vanessa Melo. Marques is an experienced fighter with eight career wins in the first round, and has an 83% finish rate, with four knockouts and six submissions.

“As the PFL looks ahead to the new year, we are thrilled to reveal our Heavyweight division for the 2023 PFL Challenger Series, which will be held for a second straight year at Universal Studios Florida,” said PFL President of Fighter Operations, Ray Sefo. 

“We’re looking forward to streaming the PFL Challenger Series Heavyweight competition from Universal Studios Florida once again,” said Pamela Duckworth, head of Fubo Networks and originals, FuboTV. “Fubo Sports is the only place fans can catch all of the action from the Challenger Series competition.”

Greg “The Viking King” Velasco, an American wrestling specialist, was a former NCAA D-1 wrestler at Rider University and owns an 80% finish rate with a 5 -1 professional record. Velasco will look to make a statement in his PFL debut against Brazilian Vitor Resende, who owns a 100% finish rate with three of his wins coming in the first round. Resende, who stands 6’9”, trains out of the world-famous American Top Team gym in Coconut Creek, Florida.

Manchester native, Abraham Bably, will enter the SmartCage as an undefeated mixed martial artist (2-0 as a professional, 4-0 as an amateur). The Manchester Top Team product will square off with the heavy-hitting American, Hassan Graham. Graham previously fought for Cage Titans, and holds a first-round KO victory, along with an undefeated amateur record of 4-0.

Louie Sutherland, a Scottish heavy-handed striker, will match up with Alton “Murda” Meeks, an American former D-1 college football player at Iowa State and Northern Illinois University. Sutherland comes into the matchup with four knockout wins coming in the first round. Meeks, meanwhile, is 4-1 as a professional and boasts a 100% finish rate with two knockouts and two submissions.

Challenger Series competitors will be evaluated by a judging panel, comprised of combat sports champions and celebrity guests.

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Hari Bhagirath is the former Chief Creative Officer at BRAVE Combat Federation. Currently, he heads Strategic Relations and Financial Communication for a major Fortune 100 organization. He is also the co-founder of Totem Capital, a private wealth management initiative.

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