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PFL’s Daniel Pineda fails NAC drug test, jeopardizing Season 2 featherweight final

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MMA: Bellator 182-Karakhanyan vs Pineda Dave Mandel-USA TODAY Sports

PFL Season 2 featherweight tournament finalist Daniel Pineda has failed a drug test conducted by the Nevada Athletic Commission, his manager Jason House confirmed to MMA Fighting.

“Right now we’re in the process of researching what could have led to a positive test,” House said in a prepared statement. “We plan on appealing the decision once all information is gathered.”

House, who was bound for UFC Sao Paulo when reached for comment, declined to provide the name of the substance for which Pineda tested positive. He said he plans to meet with the commission to get more information on it and the circumstances around the failure.

PFL spokesperson Greg Savage declined comment, deferring the matter to the NAC. As of now, Pineda is still scheduled to meet Season 1 tourney champ Lance Palmer in the Season 2 finals scheduled for Dec. 31 in New York City.

The New Year’s Eve event is regulated by the New York State Athletic Commission, which ultimately will decide whether or not to give Pineda a license. NYSAC Executive Director Kim Sumbler said she hadn’t received any notice of a positive drug test, first reported by MMA Junkie, in connection with the event.

Pineda, a UFC and Bellator vet., knocked out his quarterfinal opponent, Movlid Khaibulaev, and submitted his semfinal opponent, Jeremy Kennedy, to earn a spot in the finals. Palmer outpointed Alexandre de Almeida and Alex Gilpin for his second trip. The winner of the tournament receives a $1 million paycheck.

“I have nothing personal against Pineda,” Palmer’s rep, Ali Abdelaziz, told MMA Fighting. “I believe everybody has a right to a fair hearing with the Nevada commission. I wish Pineda nothing but the best. The tournament is going to go on.”

Pineda isn’t currently included on the NAC’s agenda for its Nov. 20 meeting. The commission typically suspends a fighter administratively in the event of a positive drug test. Then it requests a temporary extension of the suspension at its next meeting. The fighter is given time to prepare a defense against a complaint drafted by the Nevada attorney general’s office, which represents the commission in disciplinary hearings.

The Nov. 20 agenda includes temporary suspension requests for PFL fighters Glaico Franca, Luis Rafael Laurentino and Ramsey Nijem.

If Pineda’s case is delayed to December, it will leave the PFL with little time to find a replacement in the event of an unfavorable outcome. A comment request to the commission’s executive director, Bob Bennett, wasn’t immediately returned.