The world of mixed martial arts was buzzing on Tuesday when former UFC champ Francis Ngannou announced a lucrative deal with the PFL, ending months of speculation about his next move. UFC president Dana White had his own set of news lined up, which remained unannounced until after Ngannou’s latest move.
White announced a rematch between Dustin Poirier and Justin Gaethje for the main event of UFC 291. The July 29 bout will see the two fan favorites fighting for the BMF belt in Salt Lake City, Utah. Jorge Masvidal relinquished the belt earlier after his retirement came about at UFC 287.
Dana revealed the main card as well – which features Alex Pereira’s 205 lbs debut against Jan Blachowicz. Also, Paulo Costa takes on Ikram Aliskerov, while Tony Ferguson battles it out with Bobby Green. Kevin Holland vs. Michael Chiesa will serve as the main card opener.
Poirier vs Gaethje 2 is OFFICIAL!#UFC291 in Salt Lake City is going to be RIDICULOUS 🔥🔥 pic.twitter.com/OYWxzUcJk5
— UFC (@ufc) May 16, 2023
Dana White has gone on record to claim multiple times that the BMF belt is a “one and done” gig. The belt was created in the build-up to UFC 244 after Nate Diaz insinuated defending it against Jorge Masvidal. Hence today’s announcement got the fans in splits as the belt found its way almost 4 years after its creation in 2019.
Kamaru Usman had his eyes on the belt before he faced ‘Gamebred’ at UFC 251. However, Dana never allowed the belt to be on the line then, nor even in any of the future bouts Jorge participated in. Thus fans speculate as to what might have led the boss to pull the belt almost from the grave for UFC 291.
Fans also believe this is Dana’s way of getting back at ‘The Predator‘ after the latter left the promotion on sour terms. White’s relationship with Ngannou has always been public knowledge, and it was never on great terms. This has led fans to believe White made an impromptu decision to announce the upcoming fights only to bury Ngannou’s recent move.
Dana White overshadowing Francis Ngannou’s PFL deal draws hilarious reactions from the fans
Ever since Dana White announced the high-profile fights, fans started voicing their initial reaction, and they’re hysterical. Over the years, fans have alleged White acts petty with the fighters he’s had issues with. Be it contract disputes or turning down fights, several things don’t seem to sit well with the UFC head honcho. Thus, many believe the surprise announcement is intentional on Dana’s part, in an attempt to bury Ngannou’s PFL move.
Here are some reactions on the matter
Dana White saw Ngannou’s announcement and decided to release the biggest news of the year on the same day. 😭
— Andrew Marky (@amarkydream) May 16, 2023
Francis Ngannou: *announces PFL move*
Dana White: pic.twitter.com/doHC9zPY90
— Out Of Context MMA (@oocmma) May 16, 2023
MMA Media: “Francis signs with the PFL”
— CRKN (@The_Crackoon) May 16, 2023
I find it interesting how on the same day that Francis Ngannou announces his contract with PFL, all of a sudden DANA WHITE got something to say 🤔🤔🤔. pic.twitter.com/0CICF4vpjs
— Mr Stand On That Bed (@Ibe_tweetin) May 16, 2023
Dana White after seeing Francis Ngannou make his big announcement today #UFC291 pic.twitter.com/5Lxb16Y8NJ
— Zoofuh🔥 (@Zoofuh) May 16, 2023
Francis Ngannou makes PFL announcement
Dana White: pic.twitter.com/mrXdBej7bT
— As Shopped As It Gets (@AsShopped) May 17, 2023
How will the UFC respond after the Francis ngannou & PFL signing?
Dana White: Hold my Prime pic.twitter.com/CMgaz0DD4p
— Fight Lounge (@fightlounge_) May 16, 2023
Dana White dropping major fight news after the Francis Ngannou PFL signing. pic.twitter.com/Q9ukQYe12h
— Phillip Kadek (@phillynextdoor) May 16, 2023
Dana White when he saw the Francis Ngannou PFL announcement pic.twitter.com/zWRJL7tXsO
— The Patrick McCorry Sports Show (@Patrick_McCorry) May 16, 2023
Dana White, Hunter Campbell, Sean Shelby, Mick Maynard and Ari Emmanuel after announcing the best PPV Card of the year on the same day Francis Ngannou signs with the PFL pic.twitter.com/8vgw4BKFYG
— 🐐丂ㄒ_卩丨’卄卂丨尺 🀄⚔ (@GoatStPiHair) May 16, 2023
Whether or not this happens to be a coincidence, is something purely Dana White and the UFC brass would know. If it was indeed his motive to overshadow Francis’ big news, it surely seems to have worked, or so it appears.