PFL officials confirmed Brunson’s signing and debut to ESPN on Friday. Brunson, 39, posted news of his pending move to the PFL via social media on Thursday, following an initial report by online personality The Schmo, who cited Brunson’s management.
Brunson (23-9) has not fought since March and exited the UFC on a two-fight skid. His manager, Ali Abdelaziz, has said publicly Brunson’s split from the UFC was a mutual decision between the athlete and promotion. Brunson’s last win came in September 2019.
Despite his current skid, Brunson had been one of the UFC’s most consistent middleweights in recent years. His middleweight bout against Cooper III (25-8-1) will be shown as a showcase bout on the Nov. 24 event in Washington D.C., alongside the promotion’s 2023 Championship Finals and other various showcase fights.
“The 2023 PFL World Championship is set to be the grandest event in PFL history, and we are excited to welcome Derek Brunson to the PFL and host the return of two-time PFL World Champion, Ray Cooper III,” stated PFL Ceo Peter Murray. “MMA’s richest night will feature the biggest stars in MMA vying for six world championships and $6 million, while including the return of Kayla Harrison and Biaggio Ali Walsh.”
Cooper III, of Hawaii, has not fought since July 2022. He is 7-1 in his last eight appearances.