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D.C. Sports Bog

New arena in Congress Heights set to host Professional Fighters League playoffs

August 17, 2018 at 3:17 PM

The Professional Fighters League is heading back to the nation’s capital Oct. 20 for its semifinal matches. (Gregory Payan/Associated Press)

The Professional Fighters League, a fledgling mixed martial arts organization that made its first appearance in the District last month, is set to come back in the fall for a portion of its postseason, the PFL and Events DC announced Friday.

The PFL semifinals are to be held Oct. 20 at the new Entertainment and Sports Arena on track to open in September in Congress Heights on the campus of the former St. Elizabeths Hospital.

“We are excited to be bringing our unique brand of MMA back to the Washington, D.C., area,” PFL chief executive Peter Murray said in a statement. “It has been a monumental first regular season for the PFL, and we are intent on continuing to elevate our brand through strong partners like Events DC. It is truly an honor to be able to bring a global property like the PFL to a beautiful new venue like the Entertainment and Sports Arena.”

The PFL, which features 72 fighters over six weight classes, is approaching the end of its regular season. The top eight fighters in each division advance to the playoffs, with the six champions receiving $1 million following the finals on New Year’s Eve.

Related: [Professional Fighters League comes to D.C. with new MMA format and promise of big payoff]

The PFL held a regular season card at George Washington’s Smith Center in early July.

“With the District’s rich history in boxing and mixed martial arts, Events DC is excited to partner with the Pro Fighters League to host the league’s highly anticipated semifinal matches,” said Gregory A. O’Dell, president and CEO of Events DC, the official convention and sports authority for the nation’s capital.

The PFL semifinals are the latest in a string of programming scheduled for the 4,200-seat ESA, which will serve as the practice facility for the Washington Wizards and host games for the Washington Mystics and the Capital City Go-Go, the Wizards’ G League affiliate.

In June, the Colonial Athletic Association, in conjunction with Events DC, announced it would hold its men’s basketball tournament at the ESA from 2020 through 2022, the first college sporting event to commit to the building in the final stages of construction.

The CAA men’s basketball tournament last was in the D.C. area in 1986, when Patriot Center in Fairfax hosted for a year.

The first event announced for the ESA was the esports Red Bull Conquest national finals scheduled for Nov. 16-18. The tournament circuit that began in late April determines which region in the country is home to the best players in three popular fighting games: Street Fighter V: Arcade Edition, Tekken 7 and Guilty Gear Xrd Rev 2. The champions in each of the 15 stops in cities throughout the country then convene in the District to represent their region in the national finals.

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Gene Wang is a sports reporter covering multiple beats, including Virginia and Virginia Tech football and basketball, national college football and basketball, the Wizards, boxing and golf. He has been with The Washington Post sports department since 1990, and has also written about other Washington teams and fantasy football.

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