Mixed martial arts promoter the Professional Fighters League (PFL) has signed former UFC heavyweight champion Francis Ngannou. As Ngannou's relationship with UFC deteriorated, there was talk that he would cross over to boxing and fight WBC heavyweight champion Tyson Fury. This announcement moots that speculation. Here is the PFL press release:
The PFL has announced an exclusive global MMA strategic partnership with Francis Ngannou, the greatest MMA fighter in the world today. Ngannou is the former UFC heavyweight champion, the first African heavyweight world champion in history, and the hardest hitting fighter in MMA history. PFL is the #1 fastest growing global sports league and the #2 MMA company worldwide on all metrics. This strategic partnership represents the most valuable MMA deal for a single fighter and the latest groundbreaking milestone to accelerate PFL’s mission to become the co-leader in MMA.
Under the partnership, Ngannou will fight exclusively in MMA for the PFL’s new PPV Super Fight Division, joining combat sports superstars Jake Paul and Kayla Harrison. 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. Ngannou will make his PFL PPV Super Fight debut in mid-2024 against a major global MMA star fighter to be chosen in the future. DAZN is a partner of PFL’s Super Fight Division and will distribute events on its PPV platform in Europe and other priority international markets.
The PFL Global Advisory Board has been established for the league to closely collaborate with the greatest athletes and minds in the sport of MMA to ensure the PFL stays focused on its fighters-first mission, combined with recruiting and developing future global champions. As part of the strategic partnership with the PFL, Ngannou will serve in a leadership role on the PFL Global Advisory Board, making him the first active fighter to serve on the board and represent fighters’ interests.
Building upon the successful launch of PFL Europe earlier this year, the PFL will continue its international regional MMA league expansion in priority markets around the world, including Africa. The PFL has announced Ngannou will be an equity owner in and Chairman of PFL Africa, the premier MMA league on the continent featuring the greatest fighters from African countries competing to become PFL Africa champions and earning a pathway to the PFL Global season.
Ngannou’s global stature, capabilities on the continent of Africa, and his strategic business relationships, combined with PFL’s vision and proven infrastructure, will ensure PFL Africa’s success. PFL Africa events will be staged in key countries on the continent live in primetime to meet the major demand for premium and consistent MMA content.
"I am very excited for 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. “I believe in the PFL’s “fighter first” culture and global vision including developing the sport in Africa. 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.”
“The PFL is excited to announce its groundbreaking strategic partnership with Francis Ngannou, the greatest heavyweight MMA fighter in the world. Ngannou will anchor the PFL’s star-studded PPV Super Fight Division, serve on PFL’s Global Athlete Advisory Board, and will be Chairman and an equity owner in PFL Africa,” said PFL CEO Peter Murray. “Beyond working with Francis to advance the sport of MMA and scale PFL globally, I’m personally looking forward to supporting Francis in his commitment to fight for communities in Africa and around the world, inspired by his vision for the Francis Ngannou Foundation.”
“PFL has an expansive plan to become the first true global league in sports, with international regional leagues spanning all continents,” said PFL Founder and Chairman Donn Davis. “PFL Europe’s launch in 2023 has been a huge success, and we will have six more PFL international leagues operating by 2026 to form the first ever “Champions League of MMA” to spark national pride and determine the actual best in the world via the PFL sport-season format of “win and advance” meritocracy.
"You have to give a ton of credit to Francis. Most fighters couldn’t go through what he went through this past year. He understands his value and has been extremely patient to get to this point. Now, not only is he the best heavyweight in the world, but he has a deal that is unmatched and will set him up for life. I want to personally thank Donn Davis and Pete Murray for being so collaborative throughout the process and committed to pushing PFL to new heights." said Marquel Martin, President and Co-Founder of athlete and brand management company 3POINT0 Labs Inc.
“We’re proud to work with Francis and the PFL to realize the wide-ranging business and strategic initiatives Francis has set out to achieve for his career and the continent. We’re ever impressed by his fortitude and perseverance to achieve in his life, his sport and his businesses” added Andrew Cutrow, Chief Business Officer and Co-Founder of 3POINT0 Labs.
PFL is the #1 fastest growing global sports league and the #2 MMA company worldwide on all metrics. PFL is the only company in MMA with the sports-season format, where individual fighters compete in sports-season “win and advance” meritocracy like all other major sports. The PFL fighter roster is global and world-class, with fighters from over 20 countries and 25% independently ranked in the top 25. PFL leads in technology and innovation, with its proprietary PFL SmartCage powering real-time betting and next-gen viewing experience. PFL airs live in the U.S. on ESPN and ESPN+ and in 140 countries via 25 leading broadcast and streaming partners.