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By By Matt ten-Hoeve on 4/3/2024 8:47 AM

PFL 1 - 2024 Season Preview

The new season of the Professional Fighters League kicks off on Thursday, April 4th from San Antonio, Texas. For those who have watched the PFL seasons before, you know it provides some fun fights and somewhat quick turnarounds as the fighters go through the season for a big cash reward and the title of champion. For those just jumping in, you picked the right time! Not only is the PFL starting a new season, but there will be many new faces with the acquisition of Bellator last year. This season will provide the same amount of entertainment with some fresh matchups and an upgrade in competition. Let’s check out the first card of the new season…

Main Card (ESPN+ and ESPN2 at 10 p.m. ET)

Ante Delija vs. Valentin Moldavsky

Denis Goltsov vs. Linton Vassell

Liz Carmouche vs. Juliana Velasquez

Dakota Ditcheva vs. Lisa Mauldin

Prelims (ESPN+ at 6:00 p.m. ET)

Marcelo Golm vs. Daniel James

Blagoy Ivanov vs. Sergey Bilostenniy

Ilara Joanne vs. Taila Santos

Steve Mowry vs. Oleg Popov

Kana Watanabe vs. Shanna Young

Chelsea Hackett vs. Jena Bishop

Lucas Brennan vs. Dimitre Ivy

Ty Johnson vs. Bryce Meredith

The Prelims

Even though PFL and Bellator don’t have as many recognizable names on their Prelims most times, they still end up being pretty fun. Here’s what I’m looking forward to, including some names you may recognize as a fight fan:

After eight fights in the UFC, Talia Santos is moving over to PFL where she will get a chance to get back on track in the Flyweight Division. She fought for the title in the UFC and has a lot of experience, so Santos is one to keep an eye on going forward.

Blagoy Ivanov is also coming over from the UFC. Ivanov has been around for a while -  fighting in Bellator, WSOF, and PFL before going to the UFC to take on some of the top ranked heavyweights. It didn’t work out in the UFC, but he’s getting a fresh start in the PFL. He has the ability, he just needs to put it all together and get some wins.

Marcelo Golm vs. Daniel James is a rematch from their fight in Bellator. James was originally scheduled to fight Tyrell Fortune, but Fortune had to pull out. This should be a fun heavyweight banger to finish off the Prelims.

Dakota Ditcheva vs. Lisa Mauldin

This was originally going to close out the Prelims, but with the change to the Daniel James fight, Dakota Ditcheva gets her chance to be on the Main Card. I’m happy about this. Ditcheva is a big time prospect in the women’s Flyweight Division and will get featured time on both ESPN+ and ESPN2. She tore through her competition in PFL Europe and is now coming over to challenge herself in the PFL season. She is pretty well-rounded and long. I expect her to showcase why she is part of the future of women’s fighting on Thursday.

Liz Carmouche vs. Juliana Velasquez

Thursday will be the third time that these two women battle each other, but it’ll be the first time in PFL. Liz Carmouche got the better of Velasquez the first two times - Juliana’s only two losses of her career. It’s safe to say that Liz has the upper hand on the former Bellator champion, but this is a new start for both women. Carmouche has been on a tear since leaving the UFC and Velasquez is looking to get her wins back. This should be a good one!

Denis Goltsov vs. Linton Vassell

This should be a fun heavyweight battle. Goltsov is no stranger to the PFL season format and Linton Vassell has come close to championships in Bellator. Both men have come up short in their pursuits for gold, so they will both look to start this season off right with a big win to move on and increase their chances at taking home the season.

Ante Delija vs. Valentin Moldavsky

Moldavsky comes over from Bellator where he was a former Interim Heavyweight Champion. He has yet to hold THE belt, though, so he’ll be looking to make a big splash in PFL. Delija has a good amount of PFL experience, though, and is the 2022 Heavyweight World Champion in the promotion. He will be looking to not only protect PFL’s house, but move on and prove he can become a finalist again.

The Season and Standings

For those unfamiliar, these fights will be given points based off of wins and finishes. Those points will determine who moves on to fight for the season’s championship. Wikipedia does a good job of explaining the points system for the standings at this link (Just don’t tell my students that I’m using Wikipedia to provide information…): 

Overall, PFL 1 looks like a fun card to start the season. As the season progresses, the cards tend to get stronger, so I’m looking forward to seeing how the future cards shape up after Thursday’s event.

My predictions for the top 7 fights are…

Ante Delija

Linton Vassell

Juliana Velasquez

Dakota Ditcheva

Daniel James

Blagoy Ivanov

Taila Santos

Are you excited to see PFL back? Are you planning on watching PFL 1 on Thursday? If so, let me know who you are picking and why at I’ll be back later in the week to talk about the results of PFL 1 and to take a look at Saturday’s UFC Fight Night: Allen vs. Curtis 2. See you then!