Francis Ngannou: Former UFC heavyweight champion strikes deal with PFL


Francis Ngannou has announced his arrival in the Professional Fighters League after being stripped of his UFC heavyweight title; the 36-year-old failed to agree a new UFC contract following his last title defence in January 2022

Francis Ngannou: Former UFC heavyweight champion strikes deal with PFL

Former UFC heavyweight champion Francis Ngannou has joined the Professional Fighters League and is set to make his debut early next year.

Ngannou was stripped of his title after leaving the UFC in January, having failed to agree terms on a new contract, and the Cameroonian has since been linked with bouts against heavyweight boxers.

But the 36-year-old will fight exclusively for PFL in its pay-per-view super fight division. Ngannou, who defeated Stipe Miocic in 2021 to win the UFC crown, also will serve as chairman and equity owner in PFL Africa.

“I believe in the PFL’s ‘fighter first’ culture and global vision including developing the sport in Africa,” he said on Tuesday in a statement.

“With that, I am also proud to announce that I will serve as Chairman of PFL Africa which will be the leading MMA organization on the continent providing great African fighters the opportunity to compete on a global platform.”

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PFL CEO Peter Murray has revealed that Ngannou’s first scheduled fight will be in early 2024.

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Ngannou also wants to compete in boxing, with potential bouts on offer against Anthony Joshua, Deontay Wilder and Dillian Whyte, and the PFL will not stand in his way.

“We’re supportive of Francis taking on boxing,” Murray said.

While the PFL has a unique MMA competition format that includes a regular season, a postseason and a championship event, Ngannou will only fight in a planned PPV division that includes other stars such as Kayla Harrison and Jake Paul.

“This is a new model and it’s a transformational deal,” Murray said. “This is not just an athlete signing. This is a strategic partnership”.

“Francis has all the capabilities not only as an elite MMA fighter but as a businessperson and we’re excited to be in business with him.”

Ngannou rebounded from consecutive losses in UFC to win six straight bouts, which included the championship fight and a successful title defence. He hasn’t fought since he defeated Ciryl Gane by unanimous decision at UFC 270 in January 2022.

Francis Ngannou: Former UFC heavyweight champion strikes deal with PFL

His relationship with UFC frayed to the point that White vowed Ngannou would “never be in the UFC again”.

“I never say never, but I’ll give you a never on that one. We tried,” White said.

PFL has made a splash by signing outside stars before, with fighters such as Paul and Olympic gold medal boxer Claressa Shields. The PFL also last week signed French fighter and former kickboxing world champion Cedric Doumbe.

“This is the No 1 signing that this company in MMA has ever made,” Murray said. “It’s perfectly timed. We’re now focused on our next phase of growth and launching our pay-per-view business and expanding internationally with regional leagues.”

“I can assure you that fighters who want to get out of their contracts are looking to the PFL as a major global stage with the very best talent in the world,” Murray said.


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