Another UFC vet caught in PFL drug testing scandal, 2023 season shuffled

The Professional Fighters League (PFL) is switching up the line-ups for three upcoming events after nine fighters were suspended for failing drug tests.

By: Kristen King | 2 weeks ago
Another UFC vet caught in PFL drug testing scandal, 2023 season shuffled
PFL light heavyweight Thiago Santos was recently suspended for failing a drug test | IMAGO/ZUMA Wire

The Professional Fighters League (PFL) has updated its schedule after several fighters were temporarily suspended by the Nevada State Athletic Commission (NSAC) for failing drug tests during the first half of the 2023 season.

This past Tuesday, Guilherme Cruz of MMA Fighting reported that four fighters — Thiago Santos, Krzysztof Jotko, Bruno Cappelozza and Rizvan Kuniev — tested positive for banned substances, which led to their removal from the ongoing season. Santos and Jotko suffered losses in their first post-UFC fights, while Cappelozza and Kuniev won their respective fights against Matheus Scheffel and Renan Ferreira.

A few days after, Marc Raimondi of ESPN reported that an additional five fighters — Will Fleury, Mohammed Fakhreddine, Cezar Ferreira, Alejandro Flores and Daniel Torres — were also temporarily suspended by the NSAC, which is expected to extend the suspensions during its next hearing. 

PFL announces changes to 2023 season after drug test disaster

The PFL released a statement on the situation, revealing that it is discussing the implementation of an anti-doping program with the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) as the promotion moves forward. 

“PFL has been notified by the Nevada State Athletic Commission that several fighters who competed in PFL 2023 Regular Season events this past April have been temporarily suspended until further review by the Commission.

“The PFL has a zero-tolerance policy related to the usage of banned substances and complies with U.S. State Athletic Commission requirements. Further, as the PFL moves towards the highest level of testing and compliance in the sport, PFL is engaged with USADA on the implementation of its athlete anti-doping program.

“This Friday, PFL will release final fight cards for the second half of the 2023 PFL Regular Season, including alternative fighters, matchups, league standings, and point system update.”

Update line-ups for 2023 Season

The updated line-ups for the second half of the 2023 season were indeed released.

PFL 4 (June 8) — Featherweights and Light Heavyweights

Main Card (ESPN, ESPN+, 10 p.m. ET/7 p.m PT)

  • Brendan Loughnane vs. Jesus Pinedo
  • Rob Wilkinson vs. Ty Flores
  • Movlid Khaybulaev vs. Tyler Diamond
  • Marthin Hamlet vs. Sam Kei
  • Josh Silveira vs. Delan Monte

Preliminary Card (ESPN+, 6:30 p.m. ET/3:30 p.m. PT)

  • Bubba Jenkins vs. Jo Sungbin
  • Marlon Moraes vs. Gabriel Braga
  • Chris Wade vs. Ryoji Kudo
  • Impa Kasanganay vs. Tim Caron
  • Taylor Johnson vs. Andrew Sanchez
  • Abigail Montes vs. Brandy Hester
  • Alexei Pergande vs. Akeem Bashir

Note: Ty Flores replaces Will Fleury against Rob Wilkinson (LHW), Tyler Diamond replaces Daniel Torres against Movlid Khaybulaev (FW), Gabriel Braga replaces Alejandro Flores against Marlon Moraes (FW), and Andrew Sanchez vs. Taylor Johnson and Impa Kasanganay vs. Tim Caron joins the season to replace the remaining suspended fighters. Thiago Santos vs. Mohammed Fakhreddine was canceled.

PFL 5 (June 16) — Heavyweights and Women’s Featherweights

Main Card (ESPN, ESPN+, 10 p.m. ET/7 p.m PT)

  • Ante Delija vs. Maurice Greene
  • Larissa Pacheco vs. Amber Leibrock
  • Biaggio Ali Walsh vs. Travell Miller
  • Aspen Ladd vs. Karolina Sobek
  • Renan Ferreira vs. Matheus Scheffel

Preliminary Card (ESPN+, 6:30 p.m. ET/3:30 p.m. PT)

  • Denis Goltsov vs. Yorgan De Castro
  • Marina Mokhnatkina vs. Evelyn Martins
  • Danilo Marques vs. Marcelo Nunes
  • Julia Budd vs. Martina Jindrova
  • Olena Kolesnyk vs. Yoko Higashi
  • Patrick Brady vs. Jordan Heiderman
  • Isaiah Pinson vs. Denzel Freeman

Note: Patrick Brady and Jordan Heiderman join the season to replace the remaining suspended fighters.

PFL 6 (June 23) — Lightweights and Welterweights

Main Card (ESPN, ESPN+, 10 p.m. ET/7 p.m PT)

  • Olivier Aubin-Mercier vs. Anthony Romero
  • Sadibou Sy vs. Shane Mitchell
  • Shane Burgos vs. Yamato Nishikawa
  • Clay Collard vs. Stevie Ray

Preliminary Card (ESPN+, 6:00 p.m. ET/3:00 p.m. PT)

  • Magomed Magomedkerimov vs. David Zawada
  • Magomed Umalatov vs. Nayib Lopez
  • Natan Schulte vs. Raush Manfio
  • Carlos Leal vs. Dilano Taylor
  • Alexander Martinez vs. Bruno Miranda
  • Jarrah Al Silawi vs. Cedric Doumbe
  • Brahyan Zurcher vs. Mike Bardsley
  • Abdullah Al Qahtani vs. Lamar Brown

All of these events are held at Overtime Elite Arena in Atlanta, Georgia. 

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About the author
Kristen King
Kristen King

Kristen King is a writer for Bloody Elbow. She has covered combat sports since 2016, getting her start with outlets such as FanSided, MyMMANews and MMA-Prospects. She joined the BE team in 2020, covering a mix of news, events and injuries. In her time with BE, Kristen has created ‘Fright of the Night,’ a series that highlights some of the worst injuries in the sport.

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