PFL

Is the PFL SmartCage the Best TV Technology in MMA?

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PFL logo and PFL SmartCage

by Matt Lo Cascio
The NFL’s superimposed first down marker. MLB’s pitch tracker. NASCAR’s in-car camera. The NHL’s glowing puck. All major technological innovations for watching sports on TV. Well, maybe not that last one. The glowing puck made it seem like we were playing Pong without paddles.

One professional MMA promotion has tried to grow its brand — and the sport — by continually developing ways to enhance the viewer experience. The Professional Fighters League (PFL) has taken watching combat sports on TV to a new level with its SmartCage™.

While the UFC remains the undisputed king of MMA promotions, PFL has established itself with its unique format that includes a regular season and playoffs, an increasing amount of big signings like Claressa Shields, Jake Paul, and former UFC heavyweight champion Francis Ngannou, and its strides in adapting tech to create next-gen stats and analytics.

“Tennis is measuring tennis balls going over a net. Baseball you gave pitch speed. We quickly came to how fast are these fighters throwing?” PFL CEO Peter Murray said on the Stephen Unscripted MMA podcast. “Why isn’t anyone measuring speed and what would that tell us? So we created a proprietary chip on every fighter. Every fight it’s embedded in the glove. We now own and deliver punch speed. We followed that up with kick speed. No one’s ever done that in combat sports or MMA.”

The SmartCage also monitors fighters’ heart rates and measures calories burned to show how depleted a fighter’s gas tank might be. A damage meter puts a metric on both damage inflicted and damage absorbed. Referees wear cameras to take viewers inside the cage for a stunning perspective.

“Not only will PFL fans benefit from our SmartCage™ innovation, but our pro fighters will now have access to new performance measurement data, analysis, and tools to help them train and compete. The PFL’s vision has always been two-fold: deliver the absolute best experience to fans and be a fighters-first organization and with the SmartCage™ we will accomplish both,” Murray said.

PFL has been partners with ESPN since 2019. Their 2023 regular season concludes on June 23 and the playoffs begin on August 4.

“To grow the sport you have to lead with the athletes and the experience for the fans,” Murray said. The PFL SmartCage does exactly that

PFL is a great watch for the combat sports fan, and it will be interesting to see what new tech they use in the future.

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About Matt Lo Cascio

Matt Lo Cascio is the co-founder and editor of Chicago's MMA. He is the former play-by-play announcer for the XFO and other organizations, and he has been published by ESPN.com, DraftKings, The Comeback, FanSided, and more.

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