The Professional Fighters League has called off its 2020 season due to the global pandemic, saying it will resume its mixed martial arts schedule in the spring of 2021.
The PFL is home to veteran Canadian fighters Rory (Red King) MacDonald, Sarah Kaufman and Olivier (The Canadian Gangster) Aubin-Mercier, among others.
MacDonald, a former Bellator welterweight champion and UFC contender, and Aubin-Mercier, a veteran of 12 UFC fights, have yet to fight in the PFL. Kaufman, a former Strikeforce bantamweight title-holder, made it to the semifinals of the 2019 PFL lightweight competition before losing to Brazilian Larissa Pacheco last October.
"It's disappointing, for sure, because PFL is an amazing organization to fight for," said Kaufman.
"It's also pretty hard to know what the landscape's going to look like over the next few months even. And when things will start back up," she added.
Unlike other MMA organizations, the PFL features a regular season and playoffs with fighters vying for the championship in their division and a US$1-million prize.
The 2020 regular season was slated for six weight classes in May, June, July and August. The top eight fighters in each division were to advance to the single-elimination playoffs in October, when fighters needed two wins in the same night to advance to the New Year's Eve finals.
"PFL is a global MMA league with athletes from over 25 countries, and our decision is guided by the health and safety of our fighters, fans, partners, and event personnel," PFL CEO Peter Murray said in a statement Monday.
"For the remainder of 2020, the PFL will support our fighters with a monthly cash stipend to help provide some relief during these challenging times ... Our thoughts are with all those impacted by the COVID-19 coronavirus," he added.
Other MMA organizations have also ground to a halt in the face of the pandemic, although UFC president Dana White says the UFC is laying the groundwork for sites to continue staging fight cards, including an off-shore "Fight Island."
The UFC's last live show was a televised card March 14 in Brazil staged without spectators.
Bellator called off Bellator 241 on the eve of its March 13 date at Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Conn., and postponed its three events scheduled for May.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 20, 2020.
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Neil Davidson, The Canadian Press