Former UFC champ Francis Ngannou signs ‘exclusive partnership’ with PFL but won’t debut until mid-2024… with ‘The Predator’ slated for boxing fight before MMA returns
- The PFL have confirmed the signing of former UFC champion Francis Ngannou
- The Cameroonian left the UFC after a breakdown in negotiations
- He won’t make his PFL debut until 2024, with the goal of a boxing fight
The PFL has confirmed that former UFC heavyweight champion Francis Ngannou has signed an “exclusive global MMA strategic partnership” with the organization.
Ngannou had been one of the biggest names in the UFC before a dispute over the terms of his contract led to his departure in December last year.
His exit sent shockwaves throughout the MMA community as many speculated where his belongings went. Some had suggested PFL and others boxing. Well, both seem to be true.
The Cameroonian has signed an ‘exclusive partnership’ deal which will see him receive equity and take on leadership roles in the PFL while also being allowed to pursue boxing fights elsewhere.
Speaking on the go, Ngannou told the New York Times: “The last few months have been a very interesting time to understand and see the landscape, but I am very excited about this agreement with the PFL because they have basically shown what I expected.
The PFL have confirmed the signing of former UFC heavyweight champion Francis Ngannou
The Cameroonian fighter left the UFC after contract negotiations broke down last year
“They didn’t just come in as a promotion looking for a fighter, but really came in as a partner who sees more value in you as a person.”
It is understood that Ngannou plans to have his first PFL fight in mid-2024, with the Cameroonian keen to have a boxing bout before entering the SmartCage.
There have been rumors that the former UFC champion will face Tyson Fury, Deontay Wilder or Anthony Joshua, although there are no serious developments yet.
Ngannou, 36, will compete in the PFL’s Super-fight division, which allows fighters to earn at least 50% pay-per-view [PPV] income. Compared to the UFC’s 20% cut for fighters, this remains a tantalizing opportunity.
‘The Predator’ had been one of the biggest names in the UFC, prior to its release, but felt unappreciated by business leaders when he sat down to discuss a new deal.
Speaking on his new PFL contract, Ngannou said: “Let’s just say my whole deal with PFL is more than anyone else offered.”
In a fascinating appearance on Ariel Helwani’s MMA hour in January, Ngannou accused UFC officials of denying three claims on behalf of fellow fighters; covering sponsorship rights, free health insurance and a lawyer to represent them at board meetings.
Along with Ngannou, the PFL’s other new signing – Cedric Doumbe – recently suggested his deal with the organization was worth “ten times” what the UFC had offered him.
Speaking exclusively to Mail Sport in March, PFL’s director of operations for Europe – Dan Hardy – underlined his desire to improve pay and welfare for fighters.
British heavyweight Tyson Fury has previously hinted at a crossover fight with Ngannou
“Unfortunately, most of the politics around MMA is the stubbornness of the promoters and the poverty of the fighters,” Hardy said.
“We need to put money in the pockets of these fighters so they can train and prepare properly. PPV fights would give the likes of Anthony Pettis or Jake Paul if he decided to make the jump to MMA, an opportunity to access the money they generate.
“We are talking about someone like Francis Ngannou, who I desperately hope he signs with the PFL, you must think he is worth so much more than he was paid.
“Everything with the PPV shows is going to be on the table for the fighters. They will know what they are worth because they can generate the money themselves.