The PFL’s Challenger Series returned after making its debut in 2022, with athletes gunning for a PFL contract that could either serve as a developmental deal or earn them a spot directing into the regular season to compete for its $1 million prize.
2023 PFL Challenger Series 1 took place Friday at Universal Studios in Orlando, Fla., and aired aired live on fubo Sports Network. The event featured welterweights and was headlined by Lucas Barbosa vs. Itso Babulaidze.
After the conclusion of the bouts, the four winners were narrowed down to Thad Jean and Kendly St. Louis to determine which fighter would be awarded a PFL contract with the help of a live fan vote.
Jean defeated Eric Alequin by unanimous decision with scores of 30-27 across the board, while St. Louis stopped Nick Alley in the second round with a rear-naked choke submission.
The celebrity panel of Wiz Khalifa, Tyron Woodley and Ray Lewis unanimously voted for Jean. The fan vote disagreed by choosing St. Louis. The tiebreaker went to Ray Sefo, who decided Jean would receive the PFL contract.
Below is the complete lineup and official results for 2023 PFL Challenger Series 1:
- Itso Babulaidze def. Lucas Barbosa via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 30-27)
- Thad Jean def. Eric Alequin via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
- Zach Juusola def. Jozef Wittner via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
- Kendly St. Louis def. Nick Alley via submission (rear-naked choke) – Round 2, 2:17