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PFL announces first Challenger Series card for 2023 with welterweights including only man to beat Alex Pereira

Quemel Ottoni via Instagram

The PFL will return to action on Jan. 27 with the latest installment of the Challenger Series card where a group of fighters compete for an opportunity at potentially joining the $1 million season tournament.

First up in 2023, the PFL Challenger Series will feature a group of welterweights all vying for the chance to join the roster where Sadibou Sy is currently the reigning champion at 170 pounds following his win in 2022.

The main event will feature Brazilian jiu-jitsu ace Lucas “Hulk” Barbosa taking on Itso Babulaidze, who previously earned a knockout in the PFL while competing on a preliminary card in August. As for Barbosa, he’s a multi-time grappling champion with a long list of accolades on his resume including notable wins over UFC welterweight Gilbert Burns and former Bellator champion Rafael Lovato.

Also on the card, current Jungle Fights welterweight champion Quemel Ottoni — the only fighter to hold a win over UFC middleweight champion Alex Pereira in MMA — will face off with Jozef Wittner. His win over Pereira came back in 2015 when Ottoni secured a third-round rear naked choke to finish the future UFC champion.

Overall, Ottoni holds a 12-3 record in his career and he’s currently riding a five fight win streak as he seeks to join the PFL roster.

Undefeated Cage Fury Fighting Championships welterweight champion Eric Alequin will also compete on the first Challenger Series card as he faces Thad Jean.

The final bout on the four-fight card will feature Mostafa Rashed Neda taking on Nicholas Alley.

The PFL Challenger Series cards air on FUBO TV with the first card kicking off on Friday night, Jan. 27, which will be the first of eight cards leading into the PFL regular season.

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