After winning last year’s PFL season, Philipe Lins won’t have the chance to defend his throne.
Instead, the promotion’s Heavyweight champion was forced to withdraw today with an unspecified injury. He was originally scheduled to begin the 2019 season opposite Satoshi Ishii but he’s now been replaced by Zeke Tuinei-Wily. That fight will take on June 6th in Uniondale, New York and is a part of the first regular season matchups at Heavyweight.
Tuinei-Willy (3-1) is a mostly unknown replacement for the champion and will likely enter as a clear underdog against the far more established Ishii. A former IGF Champion, Ishii is now riding a six fight win-streak after battling through a tough run of form not long ago. Following two 2014 defeats to Mirko Cro Cop, Ishii then suffered a further four losses in his next seven outings. That period included decision losses to Quinton Jackson and Muhammed Lawal but as of late, he’s turned the tide even if opposite admittedly less recognizable foes.
As for Lins though, this puts a disappointing halt to his recent momentum. The former Bellator prospect begun his career 9-0 but then lost three of four, leaving the promotion as a result. He swiftly landed in PFL though and has thrived since, scoring four finish wins and on December 31st, stopping Josh Copeland to become Heavyweight champion and win $1,000,000 in the process. Nonetheless, he’ll miss this season and a new champion will be crowned.
Ishii’s fight with Tuinei-Willy takes place on June 6th, airing on ESPN+.