Brazilian jiu-jitsu standout Lucas
will head a field of eight welterweights vying for a

Professional Fighters League
contract next year.

The organization announced on Wednesday the welterweight lineup for
the first PFL Challenger Series event on Jan. 27. Barbosa will
square off against Itso
in the card’s featured bout. The PFL Challenger
Series airs on FuboTV on Friday nights, and contract winners are
selected by a judging panel comprised of combat sports notables and
other celebrity guests.

“The 2023 PFL Challenger Series provides world class talent a path
to the PFL,” said PFL president of fighter operations Ray Sefo in a
release. “The Challenger Series continues the PFL’s commitment to
finding the best talent in MMA around the world.”

Three other 170-pound bouts were also confirmed for the event: Cage
Fury Fighting Championships welterweight title holder Eric
vs. undefeated Combate Global and Legacy Fighting
Alliance veteran Thad Jean;
Jungle Fights champion Quemuel
vs. 18-fight veteran Jozef
; and Saudi Arabian judoka Mostafa
Rashed Neda
vs. one-time Bellator competitor Nick

Barbosa was slated to make his promotional debut at PFL 7 earlier
this year before opponent Elmar
withdrew from the bout due to illness. The man known as
“Hulk” owns a 2-1 mark in professional MMA, with his last recorded
bout taking place in 2012. Barbosa is best known as an IBJFF World
Champion who trains at Atos Jiu-Jitsu under Andre

Babulaidze made his PFL debut at the organization’s playoff event
on Aug. 5, when he defeated Mahmoud
Sebie Fawzy
via first-round technical knockout. The New York
native has competed primarily for CFFC, including his pro debut and
multiple amateur bouts.

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Grappling Ace Lucas Barbosa Among Welterweights Set for PFL Challenger Series