PFL PED failures: 2022 champion the latest to flunk test

A 2022 PFL champion has been removed from the 2023 season for an alleged doping violation.

By: Jack Wannan | 4 months ago
PFL PED failures: 2022 champion the latest to flunk test
Robert Wilkinson (front) fights Thiago Santos in the PFL. IMAGO/ZUMA Wire

Earlier this month, PFL had a list of nine different fighters get in trouble due to failed drug tests for their trio of events from Las Vegas, Nevada. The Nevada State Athletic Commission (NSAC) is in the process of handing sanctions to all of those fighters, including notable names like UFC alum Thiago Santos and former PFL champ Bruno Cappelozza.

Now, 2022 PFL Light Heavyweight Champion Rob Wilkinson is reportedly the latest name to get caught up in drug testing issues. MMA Mania is reporting that Wilkinson has been pulled from his upcoming regular season bout against Ty Flores that was set to happen in just over a week. The report says that Wilkinson allegedly failed a test after defeating Santos at PFL’s first event of the year in early April.

PFL deals with wave of failed drug tests

The substance that Wilkinson tested positive for is not known at the moment. Scheduled opponent Flores will reportedly remain on PFL’s upcoming event at the Overtime Arena in Atlanta, Georgia, but instead now facing Dan Spohn in a regular season bout.

PFL faced a massive wave of failed drug tests from the Nevada State Athletic Commission earlier this month after returning to the state for the first time since 2019. The state sought financial penalties and suspensions – which prevent a fighter from competing within the state for a set period of time.

NSAC Chairman Anthony Marnell slammed the PFL during a recent meeting, stating the commission is “going to have to take a really hard look at” the promotion following the recent drug tests under their watch.

PFL also placed their own sanctions in relation to their year-long season-based format of competition.

In the case of the previous nine fighters that were caught in testing issues earlier this year, they were pulled from their regular season spots in the league and replaced by others. These drug tests have meant that a few divisions have many replacement fighters that are going into the second part of the season having not competed yet.

Change stops Wilkinson’s campaign toward second title reign

Wilkinson was originally scheduled to face Will Fleury in his early June booking, but was later given Flores due to Fleury also being one of the names caught up in the promotion’s recent drug testing sweep.

MMA Mania is reporting that Wilkinson has been pulled not only from his upcoming bout, but his 2023 PFL regular season run as a whole. This change stops him from becoming a back-to-back champion in the promotion’s light heavyweight division.

Wilkinson went undefeated in 2022, scoring a total of four wins en route to claiming a belt in the PFL. During the regular season, he put away Bruce Suoto and Viktor Pesta. Then in the semi-finals of the promotion’s playoffs, he stopped Delon Monte in just 97 seconds. His run that year culminated with a grand final victory against former UFC fighter Omari Akhmedov, who was taken out of their bout due to a doctor stoppage.

PFL’s champion system notably works different that most fighting promotions. A fighter earns a belt by winning a season, however they do not become champion in the following year nor do they defend their belt in the appearances that come after. This is similar to sports leagues like the NBA or the NFL, where the most successful team is declared champion at the end of the year.

“Razor” came over to the PFL last year after a short stint of boxing and MMA on the regional scene. The 31-year-old also had a brief UFC run from 2017 to 2018, parting ways with the promotion after taking two losses (one of which came against current UFC Middleweight Champion Israel Adesanya).

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About the author
Jack Wannan
Jack Wannan

Jack Wannan is a reporter for Bloody Elbow. He joined the site in 2023 after previously writing for and Knockdown News. He is currently in the process of earning a bachelor's degree in journalism at Toronto Metropolitan University.

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