This weekend, Dublin’s 3Arena will host PFL Europe’s championship event in a highly-anticipated evening of mixed martial arts action.
Throughout the year, PFL Europe’s stars have been battling it out for a spot in Dublin’s event – where four title bouts are set to take place.
The likes of Simeon Powell, Dakota Ditcheva and Frans Mlambo will all be looking to get their hands on their respective belts in what is tipped to be a thrilling night of action.
Ahead of the event, PFL’s Senior Vice President James Frewin sat down with Mail Sport to discuss everything from the Dublin card to Jake Paul’s imminent debut.
Speaking ahead of this weekend’s event, Frewin said: ‘We’re really excited. We are four events into this journey with PFL and Europe has been an incredible success.
PFL star Dakota Ditcheva is among the fighters vying for a title at PFL Europe Championships
The PFL will take to Dublin for a thrilling night of mixed martial arts action this weekend
PFL’s Senior Vice President, James Frewin, sat down to discuss the event with Mail Sport
‘We started out in Newcastle. We moved to Berlin and then Paris for the playoffs, and now we’re in Dublin for the championship.
‘Yeah, it’s gonna be a packed out building. We’ve got unbelievable fights – four title fights – featuring Irish lads that made it all the way through the season. We just couldn’t be more excited’.
On Friday night, British talents Powell and Ditcheva will challenge for the respective light heavyweight and women’s flyweight championships.
Meanwhile, Ireland’s John Mitchell and Mlambo will try to claim the lightweight and bantamweight titles on the night.
It comes after all the fighters have battled through events throughout the year in order to book their respective places in Dublin’s event.
‘This is a new era for MMA, right?,’ Frewin continued. ‘And the genesis of the PFL is to professionalize, advance and grow this sport.
‘Every other sport has been around a long time but MMA is a young sport. And, you know, other promotions have played their role and have done a good job.
‘But the PFL is bringing something new and unique. And what you see on this card is exactly that, you know, Simeon [Powell] and Dakota [Ditcheva] are two great examples.
British light heavyweight Simeon Powell has been tipped for glory within the PFL franchise
Similarly, Ditcheva is one of the hottest prospects emerging from the organisation
‘Two 25-year-old English athletes that are unbeaten and they’re on the cusp of changing their lives financially. They have the star factor and they represent what we’re building.
‘This isn’t the same type of product that the the MMA fan has seen before in Ireland. And I think that’s what we’re really excited about is, is showing fans in Dublin, what we’re all about’.
PFL has been hailed, by both fighters and MMA fans, for its refreshing approach to managing its roster – with many praising the pay-outs that they receive.
Former UFC star Derek Brunson, who joined the PFL in November, took to X – formerly known as Twitter – to heap praise on the promotion.
The American said: ‘I made so much cash tonight, I may never fight again. It’s been real guys. PFL took care of your boy!!’
Reflecting on the praise which the promotion has received, Frewin said: ‘As Pete Murray, our CEO, always says, professional is in our name, right? And we called ourselves the professional fighters league for that reason. To professionalize this sport.
‘It seems it’s a novel idea, in the world combat, that you would take care. Ultimately, with our with our format, what we’re saying is “Hey, come to the PFL. Know when you’re going to fight, know that you’re in complete control of your own destiny. And by the way, if you’re successful, you will make great money”‘.
Former UFC star Derek Brunson spoke highly of the PFL’s treatment since joining
Frewin’s comments come shortly after the company made a stunning acquisition of rival promotion Bellator.
‘It’s a massive moment for the company. It was not something we had to do to become successful, but it will certainly accelerate our growth.
‘I think if you look at some of the top talent, you know, you can very clearly see there’s true world champions or title contenders in that mix, which I think is great for the PFL. And it’s great for Bellator.
‘The PFL will continue as usual and Bellator will plug in as its separate product. It will continue to live on, but we will reimagine it. We will give it more purpose, give it more meaning’.
The acquisition of Bellator saw the PFL make their latest strides in the MMA industry, having already set a precedent with their big-name signings in the past year.
The likes of Francis Ngannou, Jake Paul, Claressa Shields and more have all signed up to the company ahead of potential MMA bouts in the future.
And, as murmurs over Ngannou and Paul’s prospective PFL debuts continue to circulate, Frewin suggested it won’t be long until we see them inside the cage.
‘Look, I think Don [Davis] and Pete [Murray] have been very open about the fact that Francis Ngannou will compete in the PFL smart cage in 2024.
YouTuber-turned-boxer Jake Paul is signed with the PFL and has been tipped to fight inside the smart cage next year
Francis Ngannou is also expected to make his PFL debut within 2024
‘That’s an incredible concept for any fan of combat sports, especially after what he managed to achieve against Tyson fury.
‘So I would get very excited about what’s to come out and I believe there will be an announcement relatively soon about his debut with the PFL.
‘Jake is also, as you know, a PFL athlete. He’s an unbelievable ambassador for the sport. He’s an advocate for the professionalization of this sport and taking better care of the athletes.
‘We put a PFL smart cage in his gym just a few weeks ago, so he’s training very hard. He’s obviously got boxing on his agenda coming up in a couple of weeks and PFL will always be in his corner for that. And then there’ll be an announcement on date very soon’.