Multiple Fighters Facing Suspension for Positive Drug Tests, PFL Announces Updated Fight Cards

Thiago Santos, 2023 PFL 1
Thiago Santos, 2023 PFL 1 Credit: PFL

The PFL’s three-fight stint in Las Vegas to kick off the 2023 season has resulted in numerous fighters facing suspension for failed drug tests. So many, in fact, that the second half of the regular season has been drastically altered.

MMA Fighting was first to report news of the drug test failures, which initially included free agent pick-up Thiago Santos (who lost his fight against returning champ Rob Wilkinson), fellow UFC signing Krzystof Jotko, former heavyweight champ Bruno Cappelozza, and others. A source familiar with the situation later confirmed the news to Cageside Press.

The outlet updated that list recently, noting that the following fighters were on temporary suspension in Nevada pending formal hearings:

  • Krzystof Jotko
  • Rizvan Kuniev
  • Bruno Cappelloza
  • Mohammed Fakhreddine
  • Cezar Ferreira
  • Will Fleury
  • Daniel Torres
  • Thiago Santos

In light of the news, Professional Fighters League officials released the following statement on Thursday:

PFL has been notified by the Nevada State Athletic Commission that several fighters who competed in PFL 2023 Regular Season events this past April have been temporarily suspended until further review by the Commission.

The PFL has a zero-tolerance policy related to the usage of banned substances and complies with U.S. State Athletic Commission requirements. Further, as the PFL moves towards the highest level of testing and compliance in the sport, PFL is engaged with USADA on the implementation of its athlete anti-doping program.

No timetable was given regarding the introduction of USADA to the Professional Fighters League. Currently, only the UFC utilizes the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency’s services among MMA promotions. The first half of the season, in Las Vegas, was overseen by the Nevada State Athletic Commission.

However, the league has now announced line-ups for its next three cards. Of note, at PFL 4 (featherweights and light heavyweights), Rob Wilkinson, originally booked against Will Fleury, now faces Ty Flores. Thiago Santos vs. Mohammed Fakhreddine has been cancelled outright, with both fighters facing disciplinary action.

PFL 5, meanwhile, has heavyweights and women’s featherweights, with Ante Delija and Larissa Pacheco in action.

PFL 6, finally, features an all-Canadian match-up atop the card, as champ Olivier Aubin-Mercier takes on Anthony Romero.

The second half of the Professional Fighters League 2023 season kicks off on June 8, 2023 at the Overtime Elite Arena in Atlanta, GA.