PFL confirm the signing of former UFC champion Francis Ngannou

Former UFC champion Francis Ngannou signs ‘exclusive partnership’ with PFL but won’t make his debut until mid-2024… with ‘The Predator’ set to have one boxing bout before MMA return

  • PFL have confirmed the signing of former UFC champion Francis Ngannou
  • The Cameroonian departed from the UFC after a breakdown in negotiations 
  • He will not make his PFL debut until 2024, with his sights set on a boxing bout 

PFL have confirmed that former UFC heavyweight champion Francis Ngannou has signed an ‘exclusive global MMA strategic partnership’ with the organisation. 

Ngannou had been one of the biggest names in the UFC before a dispute over his contract terms led to his departure in December last year.

His exit sent shockwaves throughout the MMA community, as many speculated where he would take his business. Some had suggested PFL and others said boxing. Well, both seem to be true. 

The Cameroonian has signed an ‘exclusive partnership’ deal that will see him receive equity and take on leadership roles in the PFL whilst also being allowed to pursue boxing fights elsewhere.

Speaking on the move, Ngannou told the New York Times: ‘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.

PFL have confirmed the signing of former UFC heavyweight champion Francis Ngannou

The Cameroonian fighter left the UFC after a breakdown in contract negotiations last year 

‘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.’ 

It’s understood that Ngannou plans to have his first PFL fight in mid-2024, with the Cameroonian keen to have one boxing bout before entering the SmartCage.

There have been rumours that the ex-UFC champion will take on Tyson Fury, Deontay Wilder or Anthony Joshua, though there’s yet to be any serious development.

Ngannou, 36, will take part in PFL’s Super-fight division, which allows fighters to earn at least 50 per cent of the pay-per-view [PPV] revenue. Compared with the UFC’s 20 per cent cut for fighters, it remains an enticing opportunity.

‘The Predator’ had been one of the biggest names in the UFC, prior to his exit, but felt unvalued by company chiefs when he sat down to discuss a new deal. 

Speaking on his new PFL contract, Ngannou said: ‘Let’s just say, all-in my deal with PFL is more than anyone else offered’. 

During a fascinating appearance on Ariel Helwani’s MMA Hour in January, Ngannou accused UFC officials of turning down three requests on behalf of his fellow fighters; covering sponsorship rights, free health insurance and an advocate to represent them in board meetings.

Along with Ngannou, PFL’s other new recruit – Cedric Doumbe – recently suggested his deal with the organisation is 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 – highlighted his desire to improve fighter pay and welfare.

British heavyweight Tyson Fury has previously hinted at a cross-over bout with Ngannou

‘Unfortunately, the biggest part of the politics around MMA, is the stubbornness of the promoters and the poorness of the fighters,’ Hardy said. 

‘We need to put money in these fighters’ pockets so they can train and prepare properly. PPV fights would give people like Anthony Pettis, or Jake Paul if he decided to cross over to MMA, an opportunity to access the cash that they’re generating. 

‘We talk about someone like Francis Ngannou, who I desperately hope signs with the PFL, you’ve got to think that he’s worth so much more than what he was being paid.

‘Everything with the PPV shows is going to be on the table for the fighters. They’re going to know what they’re worth because they can generate the cash themselves.’

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