Undefeated lightweight prospect Manoel Sousa has taken legal action against the Professional Fighters League (PFL) after being denied the opportunity to compete in Dana White‘s Contender Series. Sousa and his lawyer, Marcelo Henrique Antunes da Palma, confirmed that they have filed a lawsuit against the promotion, claiming that he was unfairly prevented from pursuing his career.
Sousa had signed to fight in the PFL Challenger Series with hopes of earning a spot in the million-dollar season in 2023. Despite winning a split decision in February, he was not offered a contract by the promotion. Sousa was then offered another fight in the PFL Challenger Series but had to decline due to testing positive for COVID-19. He believed he was a free agent but later learned that he was still tied to the PFL when an offer came from Dana White’s Contender Series.
The fighter expressed his frustration, stating that he wanted to fight in the UFC and believed he was free to compete elsewhere. However, the PFL apparently wants to keep him contracted. The promotion did not respond to requests for comment regarding the situation.
Sousa’s lawyer filed the lawsuit in Sao Paulo, Brazil, claiming that the fighter is functionally illiterate in Portuguese and that the PFL contract he received was in English, leading to a lack of understanding about its terms. Sousa expected to become a free agent if the PFL did not sign him after his initial bout, but the lawsuit alleges that the contract actually lasts for three years.
The suit argues that PFL officials have stated they would not release Sousa because he is considered a prospect of the sport and should only be revealed by the PFL for commercial reasons.
As a result of the ongoing legal proceedings, Sousa has not been able to compete since February 2023 and remains uncertain about when he will be able to return to the cage.