Lightweight Line-Up Announced for PFL Challenger Series 2023

Elvin Espinoza PFL
HOLLYWOOD, FL - AUGUST 13: Hopeton Stewart and Elvin Espinoza in a lightweight bout during PFL 7 at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino on August 13, 2021 in Hollywood, Florida. (Cooper Neill / PFL)

The PFL Challenger Series, 2023 edition launches later this month, running through March — and on Thursday, promotion officials revealed this year’s lightweight match-ups.

While the news was understandably dwarfed by the announcement of Jake Paul joining the PFL, primed to make his MMA debut, in the less distant future, eight lightweight hopefuls will compete for a spot in the league’s 2023 regular season.

Topping the lightweight installment of this year’s PFL Challenger Series will be Elvin Espinoza (7-0) taking on Damir Ferhatbegovic (6-2-1). The undefeated Espinoza has two wins under the Professional Fighters League banner thus far, and has finished six of his seven pro fights.

The only struggle for Elvin Espinoza has been activity, as he fought just once in 2022. As for Ferhatbegovic, the Bosnian fighting out of Tennessee is undefeated since 2017, when he lost back-to-back fights against future UFC athletes Luis Pena and Jonathan Pearce.

“As the PFL enters 2023, we are excited to announce our Lightweight division for the 2023 PFL Challenger Series being held live from Universal Studios Florida,” said PFL President of Fighter Operations, Ray Sefo, in a press release announcing the match-ups.

Canadian Anthony Romero (11-1), a Niagara Top Team fighter who won on the Contender Series in 2020, has also been booked for the card. He’ll face Antonio (Tony) Caruso (8-1), who last competed in MMA in 2020, when he picked up a win over former champ Eduard Folayang in ONE Championship.

The PFL Challenger Series airs live on Fubo Sports Network. Booked at lightweight as part of this year’s Challenger Series are the following match-ups:

  • Elvin Espinoza vs. Damir Ferhatbegovic
  • Mandel Sousa vs. Paulo Henrique
  • Antonio Caruso vs. Anthony Romero
  • Charlie Decca vs. Jose Aguayo