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After a one-season hiatus, PFL is gearing up to relaunch in 2021 – and the majority of the welterweight and light heavyweight rosters are already figured out.
On Thursday, the promotion officially announced 10 lightweights and eight featherweights who will be partaking in the upcoming season, which kicks off April 23 at a venue and location to be announced later. The welterweights and light heavyweights will first compete on April 29.
Of the 16 fighters announced, eight are former UFC fighters, including former UFC welterweight title challenger and Bellator welterweight champion Rory MacDonald.
2019 PFL welterweight champion Ray Cooper III and 2019 PFL light heavyweight champion Emiliano Sordi will both attempt to repeat after successful seasons two years ago.
Check out the full lightweight and featherweight rosters below:
Nikolai Aleksakhin (26-5)
[autotag]Nikolai Aleksakhin[/autotag] returns for his second PFL season. In his lone 2019 season appearance, Aleksakhin finished Jesse Ronson with strikes and extended his winning streak to seven.
Ray Cooper III (20-7-1)
[autotag]Ray Cooper III[/autotag] was runner-up for the 2018 PFL championship but came back in 2019 with a vengeance. Following a 1-1 regular season, Cooper went 2-0-1 in the playoffs including a title-clinching TKO of David Michaud.
Rory MacDonald (21-6-1)
One of the PFL's most notable off-season acquisitions, [autotag]Rory MacDonald[/autotag] most recently competed at Bellator 232 in Oct. 26. That's when former UFC welterweight title challenger lost in the Bellator welterweight grand prix final to Douglas Lima.
Magomed Magomedkerimov (27-5)
[autotag]Magomed Magomedkerimov[/autotag] has not lost since March 2015. He won the 2018 PFL welterweight title. Despite continuing to dominate the competition in 2019, an illness forced him out of the playoffs.
David Michaud (18-6)
Perhaps [autotag]David Michaud[/autotag] was overlooked entering the 2019 PFL season. But he made himself noticeable when he won three straight fights en route to the final against Ray Cooper. He would lose by second-round TKO.
Sadibou Sy (8-5-2)
[autotag]Sadibou Sy[/autotag] has had an up-and-down tenure over his two seasons with PFL. A dangerous striker, Sy has picked up TKO wins over UFC alumni David Michaud and Caio Magalhaes.
Joao Zeferino (24-9)
One of the longest-tenured members of the PFL roster, [autotag]Joao Zeferino[/autotag] has been with the promotion since 2015 – its World Series of Fighting days. Entering the 2021 season, Zeferino rides a three-fight winning streak over three UFC alumni: Bojan Velickovic, Yuri Villefort, and Paul Bradley.
Chris Camozzi (25-14)
[autotag]Chris Camozzi[/autotag] enters the 2021 PFL season having only competed twice in MMA since his UFC departure in 2017. Camozzi was released from the promotion following three straight losses. He signed with ACB and lost to Muslim Magomedov before he picked up a win in SCL against regional MMA mainstay Tony Lopez.
Cezar Ferreira (13-8)
May 12, 2018; Rio de Janeiro, RJ, Brazil; Cezar "Mutante" Ferreira (red gloves) vs. Karl "Baby K" Roberson (blue gloves) during UFC 224 at Jeunesse Arena. Mandatory Credit: Jason Silva-USA TODAY Sports
[autotag]Cezar Ferreira[/autotag] parted ways with the UFC in 2019 and almost immediately signed with PFL. "Mutante" is a The Ultimate Fighter: Brasil winner who is riding a two-fight losing skid into his PFL debut.
Marthin Hamlet (6-1)
A relative unknown to American fans, [autotag]Marthin Hamlet[/autotag] is one of Norway's top fighters. In 2019, Hamlet contended for the Cage Warriors light heavyweight title – which he lost to future UFC fighter Modestas Bukauskas.
Jordan Johnson (12-2-1)
Another former UFC fighter, [autotag]Jordan Johnson[/autotag] returns following a relatively successful 2019 season. Johnson made it to the tournament final, where he lost via first-round TKO to Emiliano Sordi.
Tom Lawlor (10-7)
A professional MMA fighter since 2007, [autotag]Tom Lawlor[/autotag] is most well-known for his stint in the UFC. Through middleweight battles and comical walkout costumes, Lawlor gained notoriety for both in-cage and out-of-cage abilities. Lawlor has only competed once since 2016 – a loss to Deron Winn.
Smealinho Rama (11-5-1)
[autotag]Smealinho Rama[/autotag] has been with PFL/WSOF since 2014. He's had ups and downs but has seemingly found a home at light heavyweight. While originally scheduled to compete in the 2019 season, Rama suffered an injury which forced him out.
Emiliano Sordi (22-8)
The 2019 PFL light heavyweight champion [autotag]Emiliano Sordi[/autotag] was one of the promotion's big surprises last season. The Argentinian competed five times between the regular season and post-season and finished all of the fights inside the distance.
Dan Spohn (18-7)
Jordan Young (11-1)
[autotag]Jordan Young[/autotag] was long touted as the future of the Bellator light heavyweight division. However, after suffering his career loss and voicing complaints of inactivity. In 11 pro victories, Young has finished eight opponents.