Cape Town — Africa’s heavyweight MMA star Francis Ngannou has finally found a new home after the announcement that he signed with the Professional Fighters League on Tuesday.
The tournament-based promotion confirmed the major acquisition on Tuesday, ending months of speculation over the former UFC heavyweight champion’s next move after relinquishing his title in January.
The Cameroonian juggernaut beat UFC star Stipe Miocic at UFC 260 to earn the “Big Boy” strap before successfully defending it against former teammate and France’s Ciryl Gane at UFC 270 in January last year.
After Ngannou and UFC president Dana White's failed contract agreement, the Las Vegas-based athlete cut ties with the most popular MMA organisation.
During their negotiations, Ngannou made various concessions, including a request whereby the UFC grant him the right to compete in the boxing ring.
Ngannou also demanded that the UFC offer health insurance to all fighters and that a fighter representative be present during all contract negotiations.
After that meeting and Ngannou's subsequent UFC exit, White confirmed that the Cameroonian would never compete in the octagon again.
Ngannou was now a free agent, sparking many rumours of him heading into boxing with a potential super fight against WBC heavyweight champion Tyson Fury.
But the suspense is finally over as the man has entered into a “strategic partnership” with PFL that gives him equity and leadership roles in one of the fastest-growing MMA brands.
There are whispers of Ngannou still making his boxing debut this year before he competes for the PFL in the middle of next year.
Under the PFL partnership, Ngannou will fight exclusively in MMA for the brand’s new pay-per-view super fight division, joining combat stars and influencers such as Jake Paul and Kayla Harrison.
"I am very excited about this game-changing partnership with the Professional Fighters League to continue my MMA fighting career in the PFL’s PPV super fight division,” said Ngannou.
The PFL said in a statement: “The super fight division was launched to revamp the antiquated business model of MMA and to forge true economic partnerships with the sport’s top stars to compete in global mega-events, offering 50% of the revenue from the PPV fights.”
DAZN is a partner of PFL’s super fight division and will distribute events on its pay-per-view platform in Europe and other priority international markets.
It is unclear who Ngannou’s first PFL opponent will be.
Ngannou’s deal with the PFL will not only allow him to pursue his dream of entering the boxing ring but he has also been confirmed as PFL Africa’s chairperson, with the promotion planning to expand to the Mother Land shortly.
Ngannou’s passion for placing fighters’ best interests first will also be met as he will have a role on the PFL advisory board to represent athletes on the PFL roster.
“I believe in the PFL’s ‘fighter first’ culture and global vision, including developing the sport in Africa. I am also proud to announce that I will serve as chairperson of PFL Africa, which will be the leading MMA organisation on the continent, providing great African fighters the opportunity to compete on a global platform,” Ngannou said.