From an undefeated former UFC fighter to a pair of cousins competing in the same weight class to a featherweight who once won 21 bouts in a year, the Professional Fighters League on Thursday revealed more than two dozen additional participants for its 2019 season.
Among the returnees from last season is Hawaiian welterweight Ray Cooper III (17-6), who finished as runner-up in the playoffs after losing the Dec. 31 final to Magomed Magomedkerimov. Joining this season's 170-pound field is Cooper's cousin and former training partner Zane Kamaka (13-3). Magomedkerimov also returns to chase another $1 million championship.
The unbeaten former UFC fighter in the field is light heavyweight Jordan Johnson (10-0), who fought four fights inside the Octagon -- most recently a second-round submission of Adam Yandiev at middleweight last September -- before opting to sign with the PFL.
Another PFL newcomer is Brazilian featherweight Luis Rafael Laurentino, who at just 26 years old is 33-1. He was especially busy in 2013, starting the year with a 3-0 pro record and ending it at 24-0. In the stretch from April through June that year, he fought three times in each month.
The PFL announced several 2019 participants last month. Those announced on Thursday included 2018 semifinalists Andre Harrison (20-1 featherweight), Smealinho Rama (11-5-1 light heavyweight) and Alex Nicholson (13-7 heavyweight). Also announced as 2019 participants were welterweights Sadibou Sy (7-4-1) and David Michaud (15-4), lightweights Chris Wade (14-5) and Nate Andrews (15-1), and heavyweights Kelvin Tiller (10-2), Denis Goltsov (22-5) and Ben Edwards (4-0).
Season 2 of the PFL begins May 9 at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Uniondale, New York, with televised coverage on ESPN2 and ESPN Deportes starting at 9 p.m. ET. Live fights begin at 6 p.m. on ESPN+. The playoffs begin on Oct. 11, culminating with finals on Dec. 31 airing on ESPN2.
"We are proud that PFL is the organization fighters want to be part of, as these guys have the talent and star power to have chosen any MMA organization," said Ray Sefo, president of PFL Fighter Operations. "PFL has only 68 slots this year for fighters, and the harsh reality is it is highly competitive to get into this league. Fighters from around the world want to control their own destiny, and after seeing six of their peers last year cash $1 million checks and win championship belts, they have come hungry to compete."
There is still an announcement to come with the rest of the 2019 PFL roster.