Give the executives with the Professional Fighters League some credit, because they really went out and added some key names to the roster.
After debuting recently, the second edition of the season-long tournament-style league will take place Thursday night live on NBC Sports Network from Chicago.
In the main event, former Bellator champion and UFC fighter Will Brooks makes his debut against Luiz Firmino. The card also features the debut of Kayla Harrison, former Bellator champion Brandon Halsey, former WSOF champion Smealinho Rama and contender Brian Foster.
However, is it enough for the PFL to make serious push as the No. 2 promotion in the U.S. behind Bellator? Or, for that matter, are they even No. 3 ahead of the likes of Legacy Fighting Alliance and Titan FC?
To answer the second question, yes, the PFL is definitely the third-biggest MMA promotion right now in the U.S. In fact, it is likely the third-biggest in the world with all due respect to ONE Championship and RIZIN.
The names attached to the PFL are big, plus, they have a TV deal with NBC Sports Network and a great streaming broadcast.
Thursday’s lineup opens with former Ultimate Fighter finalist Vinny Magalhaes battling Jamie Abdallah. Dan Spohn, another veteran, meets Bazigit Ataev, who is 17-1.
Chris Wade vs. Natan Schulte, Thiago Tavares vs. Robert Watley and Maxim Grishin vs. Jason Butcher are all fighters with at least 10-plus wins to their resume.
We get into the “big boys” of the night from there on out, as Islam Mamedov faces Yuki Kawana, Rama meets Halsey, Ronny Markes faces Sean O’Connell, Harrison makes her debut vs. Brittney Elkin, Foster faces Ramsey Nijem, Rashid Yusupov puts his unbeaten record on the line vs. Rakim Cleveland, Efrain Escudero takes on Jason High and Firmino battles Brooks in the main event.
Add it all up, and even with the Thursday time-slot, MMA fans should have their fill with PFL 2.