The year 2023 started off as an uneventful one for the former UFC heavyweight kingpin, Francis Ngannou. After an unsuccessful contract dispute with the promotion, the 36-year-old found his way out. However, what should have been a fairly easy ride, the French-Cameroonian fighter’s free agency attracted more troubles than ease.
The next few months haunted Ngannou, as various elite combat sports promotions seemed uninterested in hiring him. They all had a common claim to cite – Francis’ request for an ungodly amount of money. With the UFC, BKFC, and even ONE FC backing off from signing who was once a heavyweight champion, the future seemed harsher than it appeared.
Fortunately for the heavy-hitter, his prayers seem to have been answered. The New York Times first broke the news of PFL (Professional Fighting Championship) winning the sweepstakes. The promotion announced its major signing on Monday, ending four months of speculation over Francis’ next move.
𝗧𝗛𝗘 𝗣𝗥𝗘𝗗𝗔𝗧𝗢𝗥 𝗜𝗦 𝗛𝗘𝗥𝗘! Welcome to the Professional Fighters League @francis_ngannou pic.twitter.com/WPxuQtJtTn
— PFL (@PFLMMA) May 16, 2023
The knockout artist has signed what’s being claimed to be a “strategic partnership” that will not only give him equity but also “leadership roles” under the banner. The company plans on a mid-2024 debut for the heavyweight giant. The said debut will occur after a boxing match anticipated before the end of 2023.
Excited and relieved about the new deal, Francis said, “Let’s just say, all-in my deal with PFL is more than anyone else offered. 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,” He further elaborated,
What do we know about the PFL’s exclusive contract with Francis Ngannou?
Promotions have already started in full swing as the PFL announces the major signing on all their social media handles. As per the deal, Francis Ngannou will compete as part of the “super-fight PPV division.” next year. The said division has been set up to feature fighters in high-profile bouts, or as many would say, big-money fights.
This will likely guarantee a bigger chunk of the PPV revenue for ‘The Predator.’ Aside from this, Francis also becomes the new chairman of PFL Africa, as promotions seemingly plan an expansion over there in the foreseeable future. He will be representing athletes’ interests while on the PFL advisory board.
To many, the “equity and leadership roles” part of the deal turns out to be the most compelling. However, the deal has another eye-grabbing aspect to it. PFL will allow Francis to pursue his lifelong dream of professional boxing.
Francis Ngannou has signed with the PFL.
Per The NY Times, the deal gives Ngannou “equity and leadership roles” in the PFL. He’s expected to fight in the promotion’s super-fight PPV division next year, while competing in boxing this year. The PFL deal is an… pic.twitter.com/kloDrYxkEK
— Ariel Helwani (@arielhelwani) May 16, 2023
Since becoming a free agent, Ngannou has tried booking a megafight with Tyson Fury, but nothing has ever come to fruition. But one or more of such megafights now seems inevitable, thanks to PFL CEO Peter Murray. Speaking upon the news, Murray shared, “This is not an athlete deal. Francis is an icon today in the sport, he is the best in the world at what he does, but he’s in business with the P.F.L. We’re in business together.”
The opponent and date for his highly-anticipated debut remain unknown. Fortunately for the curious community of MMA, the heavyweight will chime in on The MMA Hour later today at 1 p.m. ET to dive further into what seems like a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.