Former UFC heavyweight champion Francis Ngannou has recently made a groundbreaking move by signing an exclusive global MMA strategic partnership with the Professional Fighters League (PFL). This exciting development comes after Ngannou’s departure from the UFC in December of last year, following a contract dispute. Speculation ran wild within the MMA community about Ngannou’s next move, with some suggesting a potential shift to PFL and others foreseeing a successful venture into the world of boxing.
Now, the Cameroonian powerhouse has inked an exclusive partnership deal with PFL that not only grants him equity but also enables him to assume leadership roles within the organization. Furthermore, Ngannou will have the freedom to pursue boxing fights outside of PFL. The arrangement is a testament to PFL’s vision, as Ngannou expressed in an interview with the New York Times, stating, “The past few months have been a very interesting time to understand and see the landscape, but I’m very excited about this deal with the PFL because they basically showed what I was expecting. They didn’t just show up as a promotion that was looking for a fighter, but really came as a partner that sees more value in you as a person.”
Ngannou’s first fight in the PFL is slated for mid-2024, with the fighter expressing a desire to have a boxing bout before entering the SmartCage. Rumours abound regarding potential opponents, including the likes of Tyson Fury, Deontay Wilder, or Anthony Joshua, though no concrete developments have emerged at this time. The allure of PFL’s super-fight division, which guarantees fighters a minimum of 50 per cent of the pay-per-view (PPV) revenue, is a stark contrast to the UFC’s policy of allocating a 20 per cent share to its athletes, making it an enticing opportunity for Ngannou.
Before his departure from the UFC, Ngannou was already a prominent figure in the organization. However, he felt undervalued during contract negotiations, which led him to explore other options. Reflecting on his new contract with PFL, Ngannou asserted, “Let’s just say, all-in my deal with PFL is more than anyone else offered.” In a January appearance on Ariel Helwani’s MMA Hour, Ngannou accused UFC officials of dismissing three requests made on behalf of fellow fighters, including sponsorship rights, free health insurance, and an advocate to represent them in board meetings.
Cedric Doumbe, another notable addition to PFL’s roster, also revealed that his deal with the organization is worth “ten times” what the UFC had proposed. PFL’s commitment to enhancing fighter pay and welfare was emphasized by Dan Hardy, the director of operations for Europe, in an exclusive interview with Mail Sport. Hardy passionately expressed the need to inject funds into fighters’ pockets to facilitate proper training and preparation. He highlighted the potential of PPV fights to provide fighters like Anthony Pettis or even crossover athletes like Jake Paul with an opportunity to access the financial rewards they generate. Hardy eagerly awaits Ngannou’s decision to join PFL, recognizing the significant value that such a prominent athlete brings to the table.
The partnership between Francis Ngannou and the Professional Fighters League has shaken the MMA world, heralding a new era of opportunity, equity, and empowerment for fighters. With PFL’s groundbreaking approach to fighter compensation and welfare, the landscape of combat sports is set for a remarkable transformation, as athletes can finally realize their true worth by capitalizing on their ability to generate substantial revenue. As Ngannou embarks on this exciting journey, the anticipation builds, and fans eagerly await his future exploits inside and outside the SmartCage.