Payout Exclusive: PFL’s Ray Sefo and Carlos Silva

July 28, 2017

MMA Payout had the opportunity to speak with Professional Fighters League (“PFL”) President Ray Sefo and PFL CEO Carlos Silva right before weigh-ins on Friday afternoon ahead of its Saturday night event: PFL Everett.

The main card from the Xfinity Arena in Everett, Washington includes MMA veterans Jake Shields and Yushin Okami.  In addition, former UFC heavyweight Jared Rosholt will be in action against Nick Rossborough.  The main event features undefeated Featherweight Andre Harrison facing Steven Rodriguez.  It airs Saturday night with the main card on NBC Sports Network starting at 6pm PT which means that it will run up against UFC 214.  The prelims begin at 3pm PT and will be online on the PFL website and the FITE TV app.

The Professional Fighters League had its debut earlier this month in Daytona, Florida.  Everett, which held a World Series of Fighting Event last July, will be the second event under the new PFL structure.  The format has fighters divided into seven weight classes competing throughout a regular season schedule, with winners advancing to a win-or-go home playoff tournament.  Each tournament winner will be crowned PFL champion for that weight class and will collect $1 million.  An additional $3 million will be divided among other regular season and playoff competitors.

In speaking with Sefo, he noted that fighters are excited about the new structure.  “I’m a product of that format,” said Sefo, who referred to his K-1 background.  “It was very similar as to how K-1 was run.”  Sefo noted that the new structure addresses a main concern of fighters.  “The most complaints I get [from fighters] is that fighters don’t fight enough.”

Silva sees gradual growth for the PFL.  “Like any league, we are laying the foundation,” said Silva.  “We are big believers that this sort of transition from promotion to sport is what’s needed in MMA.”

“As you look over the next 3 seasons, you are going to see a lot of development.”  Silva added, “Fighters will know when they are going to fight and they will be able to plan out their season and will be treated like professionals.”

Sefo emphasized that the key word from Silva’s comment was that fighters are being treated as “professionals.” The athletes will know when they are fighting and will train and condition accordingly.

As for business, Silva stated that talks with companies to be sponsors are ongoing.  “There’s a lot of active conversations going on,” Silva indicated.  “You’ll see between now and January that a couple of these really interesting title sponsors that we’re talking to that will give the brand equity to the league which we’re excited about but we’re not ready to talk about it.”

Unfortunate for the PFL, but the Saturday event coincides with the big UFC 214 main event in Anaheim with Jon Jones finally facing Daniel Cormier.  This fight has overshadowed the PFL’s second event but Silva is taking the competition in stride.  “It’s a big night for MMA,” Silva stated about UFC 214 on the same night as PFL Everett.  “We’ve had other big nights up against Bellator and up against the UFC.  There are going to be collisions in professional sports whether it is NASCAR or baseball or the football season starting in a couple weeks.”

“What we tell everybody is that you should buy the pay-per-view, but before you do that you should tune in free on NBCSN watch some great [PFL] main card action.”  Silva advised MMA fans that after watching the PFL on NBCSN you can click on your PPV.

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