Ngannou signs with PFL, will debut in 2024
Four months after leaving the UFC as a free agent, Francis Ngannou has a new home.
The former UFC heavyweight champion has signed a multi-fight contract with the PFL to compete in MMA, the promotion and Ngannou jointly announced Tuesday.
Ngannou will make his PFL debut in mid-2024 against a yet-to-be-determined opponent. He'll compete in the promotion's new pay-per-view superfight division alongside Jake Paul and Kayla Harrison.
The full terms and duration of Ngannou's new contract weren't disclosed.
His PFL contract is for around two fights, he said Tuesday on "The MMA Hour." His opponents will receive minimum base salaries of $2 million. Ngannou didn't reveal his guaranteed purse amount but said it's more than that.
Fighters who compete in the superfight division receive 50% of pay-per-view revenue.
"Let's just say, all-in, my deal with PFL is more than anyone else offered," Ngannou told Emmanuel Morgan of The New York Times.
The deal allows Ngannou to pursue boxing matches outside the PFL, he said on "The MMA Hour." He plans to make his boxing debut later in 2023 before returning to MMA next year.
The deal also gives Ngannou equity and leadership roles in the PFL. Ngannou will become the first active fighter to serve on the PFL's advisory board, where he will represent fighters' interests. The Cameroonian will also become chairman of the newly launched PFL Africa expansion promotion. The expansion, which aims to promote events on the continent, will launch in 2024 with a goal to begin staging events in 2025.
Ngannou has expressed interest in facing multiple high-profile boxers. He said Tuesday he was "very close" to coming to terms with Deontay Wilder, but the deal fell apart. He said his ideal opponent now is WBC heavyweight champion Tyson Fury.
Ngannou parted ways with the UFC in January as the reigning heavyweight champion after fighting out his contract last year. Ngannou was only willing to re-sign with the UFC if the promotion made several changes to its model to benefit fighters. The promotion would not budge in negotiations.
The 36-year-old talked to several promotions in free agency, but he said ONE Championship was the only other one with which he had serious discussions.
"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," Ngannou told Morgan. "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."
Despite leaving the UFC, Ngannou is still widely considered the best heavyweight in the world and one of the top pound-for-pound fighters in MMA. His last fight was a unanimous decision victory over Ciryl Gane in a January 2022 title defense. He's won six in a row and hasn't lost since 2018.
Ngannou won UFC gold by knocking out Stipe Miocic in 2021. He had fought for the UFC since 2015.