PFL will have to go to Plan B for its featherweight final on New Year's Eve.
Daniel Pineda's disciplinary hearing in front of the Nevada State Athletic Commission has been pushed to January. The extension was brokered between the commission and Pineda's representatives at an NSAC meeting Wednesday. Pineda was scheduled to fight Lance Palmer in the PFL's $1 million championship fight Dec. 31 in New York, but he failed a drug test in October.
PFL told ESPN on Wednesday that Pineda is now officially out of that final. He will be replaced by Alex Gilpin, who was already prepping as an alternate. PFL declined further comment on the situation.
Pineda is currently under suspension from Nevada on the Association of Boxing Commissions and Combative Sports database pending the hearing, and the New York State Athletic Commission would honor that ban, therefore Pineda would not be able to fight Dec. 31.
Pineda failed a drug test in relation to his two PFL playoff wins Oct. 17 in Las Vegas. Pineda's test results came back with a high testosterone-to-epitestosterone ratio, per the commission. That prompted further, more advanced testing, which showed Pineda had exogenous testosterone in his system -- in other words, testosterone not naturally produced by his body.
Pineda has denied knowingly taking any prohibited drug. He is facing a suspension, a fine and the overturning of his two victories.
Pineda (28-13) was somewhat of a Cinderella story that might now end up having been too good to be true. The UFC veteran was a late, injury replacement in the PFL season and ended up getting two first-round finishes in the playoffs. Pineda, 34, knocked out Movlid Khaybulaev in just 29 seconds in the quarterfinals, then submitted Jeremy Kennedy in the semifinals. Pineda is on a six-fight winning streak. He competed in the UFC from 2012 to 2014.
Also at Wednesday's meeting, the NSAC suspended PFL fighter Alex Nicholson for four years because of a failed drug test. Nicholson tested positive for three steroids -- drostanolone, nandrolone and trenbolone -- in an in-competition test stemming from his PFL quarterfinal bout Oct. 31. Nicholson was also fined $15,000, 60% of his purse.
The severity of the penalties was thanks to the commission's belief that there was intent to cheat because three separate banned steroids were found. Nicholson also did not defend himself, not responding to NSAC correspondences.
"Never have or would I take a banned substance, and after years and competing and being tested, why would it even make sense for me to show up knowing how everything goes down after years of commitment and get everything taken from me?" Nicholson told MMAFighting.com in a statement. "Just doesn't make sense either way you look at it."
Two more PFL fighters received penalties Wednesday. Rafael Luis Laurentino was suspended 12 months and fined $5,000 for testing positive for the banned steroid stanozolol. Ramsey Nijem was suspended nine months and fined $3,750 for a positive marijuana test. Glaico Franca, who also tested positive for stanozolol, had his case continued.