Champ addresses PFL’s doping scandal, claims their testing is as strict as UFC’s

Larissa Pacheco gives some insight on the PFL anti-doping testing process.

By: Lucas Rezende | 4 months ago
Champ addresses PFL’s doping scandal, claims their testing is as strict as UFC’s
April 6, 2023: Featherweight Larissa Pacheco on stage during the ceremonial weigh-ins at The Theater inside the Virgin Hotel on April 6, 2023 in Las Vegas, NV. /CSM. Las Vegas United States of America - ZUMAc04_ 20230406_zaf_c04_160 Copyright: xChristopherxTrimx

The Professional Fighters League signed one of the biggest MMA starts in the world when they closed a deal with former UFC heavyweight champion Francis Ngannou. In fact, the company has been doing so well lately that they even have plans of expanding their name to the Middle East. However, not all recent news have been great ones for the PFL.

In the beginning of the month, a doping scandal revealed that several fighters on the PFL roster failed drug tests, forcing the company to shuffle around many names in order to keep some of the 2023 tournaments going. Among those athletes were high-caliber mixed martial artists such as former UFC light heavyweight title challenger Thiago Santos and 2021 PFL heavyweight GP champion Bruno Cappelozza, among several others.

Larissa Pacheco defends the PFL doping system

The news impacted the MMA community and left fans wondering how trustworthy the PFL anti-doping process is. According to the 2022 women’s lightweight GP champion, there should no concern about how seriously the promotion takes the issue. In an interview with Ag Fight, Larissa Pacheco claimed that the Professional Fighters League tests its athletes as much as the UFC.

“I heard about the cases when the media reported them. Everyone thinks that PFL athletes are all doped up. Whoever thought they can just come over and break the rules, they found out they can’t. There are lots of haters on the internet saying ‘Larissa is full of steroids’. Even Americans have said that, too. When it comes to anti-doping policies, the PFL is at the same level as the UFC. It’s the same. We have a Commission. We take antidoping tests before and after a fight.”

Surprise visits are a constant for Pacheco

While the PFL is still tested by State Athletic Commissions, the promotion has shared their intentions to take the same route as the UFC and start working with the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) in order to run even stricter tests on its athletes. For Pacheco, the news are not very surprising, since the Brazilian claims to already deal with surprise visits from agents and pre and post-fight exams, to name a couple of examples.

“We’re getting tested all the time. We get surprise visits to get tested at home with no notice. Regulation has been getting harder and harder. This is a promotion that’s been giving a lot of money to the athletes. Do you think the testing process is going to be a joke? People are pretty mistaken about that. Everyone knows what they do. I do my job. I can’t speak for the guys who got caught. I don’t know what the reason was, if they couldn’t manage this situtation correctly. That’s it, though. They’ve been punished. Everyone is watching us all the time.”

Pacheco returns in June

Pacheco (20-4) is currently on a seven-fight winning streak. The 28-year-old won the 2022 lightweight season by racking up wins over Zamzagui Fayzallanova, Genan Fabian, Olena Kolesnyk and Kayla Harrison to win the belt. Most recently, the Brazilian dropped to the featherweight division and scored a unanimous decision win over Julia Budd at PFL 2, in April of this year.

Now, Pacheco is expected to take on Amber Leibrock at PFL 5’s co-main event, in Atlanta, Georgia. The June 16 card is scheduled to be headlined by a heavyweight bout between 2022 GP champion Ante Delija and UFC vet Maurice Greene.

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About the author
Lucas Rezende
Lucas Rezende

Lucas Rezende is a Brazilian journalist and writer from Belem, Para. He has been covering MMA since 2012 and contributing with Bloody Elbow since March 2015. When not writing, Lucas also teaches English. In his free time, he enjoys reading, slapping the bass guitar and traveling.

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