Rising stars: Top 3 breakout fighters of PFL 2024 Regular Season

Here are three fighters from the PFL Regular season we think have made themselves known to their respective divisions.
Michael Dufort
Michael Dufort / Cooper Neill/GettyImages

The first half of the 2024 Regular Season for The Professional Fighter's League has wrapped. It hosted three cards, with six weight classes over three weeks. The first event featured heavyweight and women's flyweights in San Antonio, TX. The second event featured lightweights and light heavyweights from Las Vegas, NV, and the third event took place in Chicago, IL, and featured featherweights and welterweights.

Overall, the cards were massive successes in terms of the quality of the fights. There were some fighters who we expected to perform well like Dakota Ditcheva, Impa Kasanganay, and Brendan Loughnane. This article highlights three fighters who stood out from the crowd unexpectedly. These are names that the casual MMA fan might not know.

Take a look at three names you should keep your eyes on during the second half of the regular season.

1. Jena Bishop

There were a lot of women in the flyweight division that fans and media already had their eyes on. There was 2023 European champion Dakota Ditcheva, Bellator champion Liz Carmouche, and former UFC fighter Talia Santos. But there was one woman sandwiched in amongst the best and that is Jena Bishop.

Bishop is a BJJ specialist with a massive background in grappling competitions but she just transitioned into MMA in 2021. Since her debut, she's gone undefeated in the cage and has had four first-round submissions. She's not a name every MMA fan will recognize, but they should. In her PFL debut, she faced Chelsea Hackett and defeated her for a first-round armbar.

Currently, she's ranked third in the standings due to the finishing time being later than Ditcheva and Santos' but she's ranked higher than Carmouche, the champion.

2. Michael Dufort

Michael Dufort is competing in one of the hardest divisions PFL has to offer - lightweight. The Canadian stand-out is sliding right into the shoes of the former champion, another Canadian, now-retired Olivier Aubin-Mercier. In fact, Aubin-Mercier event congratulated Dufort on his debut performance. "So proud of him," he wrote in French.

Dufort is a relative unknown to PFL fans, he was making his debut after competing in Cage Titans, UAE Warriors and on the Challenger Series in 2022. He fought the highly touted Mads Burnell and finished him in just over one round.

He's currently at the top of the leaderboard with six points. Just below him are 2023 finalist Clay Collard, Brent Primus, and Elvin Espinoza. Look for his Sophomore appearance to come this Summer.

3. Gabriel Braga

There's no more heartbreaking story than Gabriel Braga's. The young fighter enters the season without his beloved dad and head coach Diego Braga by his side. Diego was murdered in Brazil earlier this year. No one would have blamed Gabriel for sitting out the season but he didn't and it paid off for him.

Braga finished Justin Gonzales with just one second remaining in the first round. The nasty left hook dropped GonzalEs at the bell and Gabriel lay sobbing on the canvas. The emotional win plus the memory of his father came flooding out. It was a beautiful performance and makes for an incredible story should he make it to the finals this year.

Gabriel sits at two in the rankings, just below Loughnane who was making his return to the PFL after being eliminated last season.

When is the next half of the PFL Regular Season

  • June 13 - Heavyweights and women's flyweights
  • June 21 - Light heavyweights and lightweights
  • June 28 - Welterweights and featherweights

The 2024 playoffs take place on Aug. 2, 16 and 23 and the finals date and location has yet to be announced.


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