There is guaranteed to be a new heavyweight champion in the Professional Fighters League this season.
League officials announced Monday via press release that 2018 heavyweight tournament winner Philipe Lins has been forced to withdraw from the 2019 season due to injury. Lins was scheduled to open this season’s campaign against Satoshi Ishii at PFL 14 on June 6.
The nature of Lins’s injury was not disclosed.
Stepping in for Lins to face Ishii (21-8-1) at PFL 14 will be league newcomer Zeke Tuinei-Wily (3-1). The 31-year-old wily is a former Division-I football player from the University of Utah who recently returned from a three-year hiatus to defeat Diogo Santana by first-round submission at a Grand Fighting Championship show in February.
Lins, who hails from Brazil, won all four of his bouts during the 2018 PFL season, including a fourth-round TKO of Josh Copeland in December that made him the 2018 PFL champion and earned him a $1,000,000 prize.
PFL 14 takes place on June 6 at the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum on Long Island, New York, and the main card will air on ESPN+. Lins and Ishii were scheduled to headline the show and it is not known whether another bout will take its place in the order.