Louis Taylor will not get the chance to compete for a second $1 million prize.
Taylor, who won the Professional Fighters League's middleweight season last year, was not cleared by the New York State Athletic Commission (NYSAC) and has been taken off the promotion's 2019 roster, the PFL confirmed with ESPN on Thursday. In a statement, a commission spokesperson said Taylor did not meet medical requirements.
Taylor planned to compete for the $1 million prize in the welterweight division this year after the league removed the middleweight division. The Chicago native was originally scheduled to headline the first PFL event of the season May 9 against Chris Curtis in Uniondale, N.Y., which airs on ESPN+. The final fight of the night will now be Kayla Harrison vs. Svetlana Khautova, according to PFL officials.
"Louis Taylor has been removed from the 2019 PFL season roster due to his inability to be licensed by the state of New York," the PFL wrote in a statement.
"Louis was a great representative of the PFL during his run to the 2018 middleweight title and the League is grateful for his contribution to the PFL."
Taylor, 39, said he didn't want to discuss the NYSAC's decision further than what the PFL has released. Taylor also posted about the situation on Instagram. "I'll leave it there," Taylor told ESPN. "I'm not really commenting on it publicly."
View this post on Instagram
PSA: Thank You So Much @pflmma @sugarraysefo for giving me the chance to compete 2018 & 2019 unfortunately Life throws curve balls and I will not be competing this season. I've searched my entire career for a home in MMA so I'll be watching as a fan Next Thursday May 9th. PFL on ESPN is Going to be Amazing!
Taylor fought and won the PFL's first season on New Year's Eve at Madison Square Garden's Hulu Theater in New York. At that time, he was licensed by the NYSAC. But evidently something has changed between then and now.
"Mr. Taylor did not meet NYSAC minimum medical requirements to compete," New York State Department of State spokesperson Lee Park said in an email statement. "We have no further comment on the matter."
Taylor (18-4-1) had a stunning run in the PFL's first season, culminating in a 33-second knockout victory over Abusupiyan Magomedov in the finals Dec. 31 to win the $1 million. Nicknamed "Put The Guns Down," Taylor went 4-0-1 in the PFL's first season and playoffs to earn a berth in the championship fight.
Taylor said he doesn't know what his future holds in PFL, adding that he doesn't want to discuss his situation much, because he doesn't want to take away from the PFL second season launch next week. Two-time Olympic judo champion Kayla Harrison will now headline the first card of the 2019 slate against Svetlana Khautova. Curtis will fight Andre Fialho.
"I'm not trying to distract from this PFL season, especially right now," Taylor said. "I don't really want to speak on it until the season is going. I don't want to distract from this inaugural event they got going. It's gonna be a great season. I don't want to cast any negativity their way. I want PFL to get everything they're trying to build towards. They gave me a platform."
ESPN's Ariel Helwani contributed to this report