Former UFC champion Anthony Pettis agrees to join the Professional Fighters League

Anthony Pettis signs for the PFL 2021

  • PFL MMA has added Anthony Pettis to its roster for the 2021 season, the ESPN reporter Ariel Helwani said Wednesday.
  • The PFL and Pettis confirmed the news in different statements sent to Insider.
  • Pettis, a former UFC lightweight champion, will compete in the 155-pound division when the PFL restarts operations from April.
  • The American joins Rory MacDonald, Fabricio Werdum, and Claressa Shields as other big-name PFL signings who will make their debuts in 2021.
  • Visit Insider's homepage for more stories.

The former UFC lightweight champion Anthony Pettis has joined the Professional Fighters League (PFL).

Pettis won the UFC's 155-pound championship when he submitted Benson Henderson with an armbar in 2013, and defended the belt the following year when he beat Gilbert Melendez with a guillotine choke.

He last fought for the UFC four days ago, winning a decision against Alex Morono at a behind-closed-doors show in Las Vegas, and will now prepare for PFL's seasonal format when the New York-based MMA firm restarts operations in April 2021 following a coronavirus-enforced hiatus this year.

"I am excited to announce that the PFL has signed Anthony Pettis," the CEO of PFL Peter Murray said in a statement sent to Insider.

"Not only is Anthony a transcendent athlete within the sport of MMA, but he is also an innovator in the cage who is known for his charismatic fighting style and determination to win.

"We're very excited for him to join the PFL family," Murray said.

The news was broken by the ESPN MMA reporter Ariel Helwani on Wednesday.

Pettis joins Rory MacDonald, Fabricio Werdum, and Claressa Shields as other big-name PFL signings who will make their respective debuts in 2021.

Pettis will compete in the lightweight division and could win a $1 million check should he win the company's high-stakes New Year's Eve championship match, after moving through the 2021 season and playoffs.

"I am really looking forward to this next big challenge after signing with the PFL," said Pettis in a statement sent to Insider.

"I'm super impressed with what the PFL has built, how they are growing the sport, and the amazing talent they have added."

Pettis will be in the same division as the reigning PFL lightweight champion Natan Schulte and Clay Collard, an emergent cult hero in boxing because of his fan-friendly performances throughout the pandemic.

"I've been watching the Brazilian guy Schulte who is the champion and he is really good but there isn't anyone I'm scared of," Pettis said.

"The season format is great; I think it will be an amazing journey for me and to get to wrap it up over the course of one year will be awesome.

"I can't wait to get another world championship to add to my collection."

The fights will take place at a Caesars Entertainment property in Las Vegas like Caesars Palace or Rio, and will be broadcast on ESPN2.

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