The PFL hosted the last three of its regualr season events but a fight on the final week has cast a dark shadow on the promotion and its climb to legitimacy.
The PFL booke two best friends Natan Schulte and Raush Manfio to face-off in the regular season (despite there being several other options for each). Both fighters were vocal about not wanting to fight each other, especially during such a crucial moment in the season.
But the PFL didn't budge and the fight went on as planned. Fans and media alike questioned the decision and predictieed the fight would be a lackluster sparring match, and that's basically what it was.
After the event Schulte, who advanced to the playoffs with the decision win over his friend, said the "weird" fight made him sad and he wasn't happy about how it all happened.
Then, just hours after the event, PFL announced it had suspended both fighters for the fight and moved Shane Burgos into the playoffs instead of Schulte.
On Sunday, Schulte took to Twitter to beg newly signed Francis Ngannou for help.
"I am very unsatisfied with the decision that was taken by the PFL last night to favor Shane Burgos' entry into the Playoffs," he wrote. "You remember Francis Ngannou's fight against Derrick Lewis he didn't throw 6 punches in the whole fight and he wasn't cut for his performance that night. So I ask you Francis Ngannou since you protect the rights of the fighters, do you think this decision is correct?"
One of the four men who advanced in the season, and won in 2022, Olivier Aubin-Mercier, claimed that the fight seemed "fixed" and pointed out that it wasn't fair the two were able to "not fight" and still advance.
The PFL issued a statement condeming their actions shortly after.
"Last Night Natan Schulte and Raush Manfio did not meet the standards which all PFL fighters agree to uphold in competition.- PFL official statement
All fighters in their PFL Fight Agreements agree to use their “best efforts ... skills and abilities as a professional athlete to compete ... and defeat any opponent.”
It was very clear that Natan and Raush did not meet that contractual standard in yesterday’s bout.
PFL immediately suspended both fighters from the season and deemed the fight to have 0 points for purposes of League standings.
PFL takes this action in recognition of its responsibility to all PFL fighters and all PFL fans."
This latest controversy comes after 10 fighters were suspended following the first half of the 2023 season for various PED violations.
The PFL Playoffs begin in August in San Antonio, TX.