Live from the Hulu Theater at Madison Square Garden in New York City, Thursday's Season One debut of PFL is the first of seven 2018 regular-season events each Thursday night in June and July.
The 2018 PFL season will feature a total of 126 fights on Thursday nights in seven regular-season events. There will be 12 athletes in each of six different weight classes. For example, on this Thursday's premiere event, there will be a total of 24 heavyweight and featherweight fighters, competing in a total of 12 bouts that first night. All are vying to claim a spot in PFL's bracket-style "win or go home" playoffs, and, ultimately, their share of a $10 million post-season prize pool, the largest prize pool in the history of MMA, according to the Professional Fighters League.
Eight fighters from each weight class will earn their way into the PFL playoffs… with one fighter in each division earning the title of champion.
U.S.-based and international fans will be able to watch all PFL regular season, playoff, and championship fights -- over 66 hours of live action -- for free. In the United States, all of the PFL regular-season events will air live on Thursday in primetime exclusively on NBCSN, and stream live on NBCSports.com, the NBC Sports app, and pflmma.com. Outside the U.S., Facebook will stream up to six hours of free, live coverage for each event. In the U.S., fans can watch the first three hours of coverage of each event on Facebook.
Lance Palmer: One of the fighters at Thursday's PFL debut
One of the fighters featured on Thursday's Professional Fighters League debut that college wrestling fans and MMA mavens will immediately recognize is Lance Palmer. The former four-time NCAA All-American for Ohio State who competed in PFL's predecessor, World Series of Fighting (WSOF), hopes to win the featherweight (145-pound) crown at the conclusion of Season One of Professional Fighters League.
Here's the message Palmer posted on Twitter Wednesday morning:
Lance Palmer"Weighed in, ready to go! Don't miss it tomorrow night (6/7) on @NBCSports. Main card starts at 9 pm eastern!"
Palmer described featherweight as "definitely one of the most competitive" weight classes in the first season of PFL. "Other than featherweight, I think 155 is the other highly competitive weight class," the former Buckeye mat star told FanSided MMA. "I'm excited for it. I'm excited to see guys who I have already fought for World Series of Fighting that are in this league format. You have Alexandre de Almeida, (Andre) Harrison, you've got (Steven) Siler, those are three guys I've already fought. It will be exciting to see where everybody stacks up and how they perform as we head into postseason competition."
All that said, Palmer sees himself as the guy to beat.
The 31-year-old Palmer -- known as "The Party" in his MMA career -- will get a solid test in his first bout in the kick off of the PFL regular season against 21-fight veteran Bekbulat Magomedov on Thursday night.
"I think the matchup is great for me, not so much for him," Palmer told FanSided MMA. "Obviously, I think he's tough, he's 19-1, only has one loss -- to one of my good friends, Josh Hill -- he's tough. There's a lot of good that's going to come out of this fight on June 7, for me, and it will be a good way to show that I am the top dog for this season. There's currently 12 guys competing to try to make it to this postseason in October and this fight will be a great stepping stone for that."
Lance Palmer is not only confident about his future in Professional Fighters League, but the future of FPL itself, which describes itself as "an MMA league," not a promotion nor an organization that merely hosts tournaments.
"People are always going to have doubts about an organization, or a league, and how successful it's going to be," Palmer said. "All I can say is tune in on Thursday night and watch us get the ball rolling. This regular season structure is June and July for us, then the postseason starts in October. It's something that fans, media and everybody else can get behind and follow throughout the year. It is not just something where you watch one night and you don't have anything to follow in MMA. This is something where you can get behind someone for an entire season and we don't have that in our sport."