The Professional Fighters League today announced that the PFL International Qualifier Series will debut in Russia on February 22nd at the RCC Arena, Ekaterinburg. In partnership with Russian Cagefighting Championship, four lightweight fighters will compete in a fight twice in one-night tournament, with the winner earning his shot at a coveted spot in the 2020 PFL season. The event will air on MatchTV in Russia, starting at 5pm GMT.
The PFL International Qualifier Series will take place in February and March in PFL priority markets outside the US, including Russia and United Arab Emirates, with others to be announced. Four fighters from each market will compete in a tournament requiring each fighter to fight twice and win twice in the same night to be considered for a PFL 2020 season contract.
“This preseason, we’re excited to launch the PFL’s first-ever International Qualifier Series in Russia, a country known for producing elite MMA athletes and a key market for PFL’s global growth,” said Peter Murray, CEO of the PFL. “We look forward to seeing which RCC fighter can withstand the toughest test in MMA, fighting and winning twice in one night, to earn a contract with the PFL for the 2020 season.”
The PFL International Qualifier Series lightweight tournament features local favourite Timur Nagibin (15-4-0, 1 NC), who is coming off a TKO victory over former UFC fighter Mike Santiago. Nagibin will face Muratbek Kasimbay in the semi-finals. Kasimbay has won four-straight fights, all by stoppage, three of which came in the first-round. His nine career victories (9-1) have all come by stoppage, bringing knockout power to the fight twice in one-night tournament.
On the other side of the bracket, former World Warriors Fighting Championship lightweight title holder Mikhail Odintsov (16-2) enters the tournament on a five-fight win streak, four by early stoppage. His opponent, Vladimir Kanunnikov (10-2), began his MMA career with eight straight victories. He’s looking to rebound from just the second loss of his career.
The PFL International Qualifier Series live tournaments will be staged and distributed by the PFL’s co-promotion partners in their respective markets. The PFL will distribute the fights outside of those markets with its official broadcast partners in addition to streaming across the PFL Live App and the league’s digital channels on YouTube, Facebook and Twitch.