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Francis Ngannou to debut in PFL with opponent 'announced in February'

Francis Ngannou taunts Tyson Fury after knocking him down during their heavyweight boxing fight in October
Ngannou suffered a narrow defeat to Tyson Fury on his professional boxing debut in October

Francis Ngannou is expected to return to MMA with the Professional Fighters League this summer, with the promotion intending to announce an opponent later this month, says PFL CEO Peter Murray.

Cameroon's Ngannou, 37, is set to box Britain's Anthony Joshua in Riyadh on 8 March.

The bout follows his heavyweight boxing debut in October, which resulted in a split-decision defeat to Tyson Fury.

Ngannou is yet to debut in the PFL after joining the promotion last year.

"We'll have another event in the second half of the year, this summer likely, and we expect Francis to return to MMA in the PFL Smartcage," said Murray.

"And we're very excited for Francis and his upcoming bout against Anthony Joshua. I would not rule out Francis Ngannou in this fight, don't underestimate him."

In November, the PFL acquired fellow MMA promotion Bellator and the organisation will host its first event featuring fighters from both rosters in a champion versus champion card in Riyadh on 24 February.

Murray added the PFL intend to announce details about Ngannou's opponent "in conjunction with our 24 February event".

The show continues Saudi Arabia's investment in sport such as boxing and football, although the nation has long been criticised for using sport to deflect conversation away from its poor human rights record.

Former UFC heavyweight champion Ngannou has not fought in MMA since defending his title against Ciryl Gane in January 2022.

A knee injury then kept him out for a year and he was stripped of the title upon his departure from the UFC, before later signing a contract with the PFL.

But Ngannou is yet to feature in the promotion, instead opting to box WBC heavyweight champion Fury in October in a non-title bout.

Despite defeat, Ngannou's impressive performance, which included knocking the undefeated Fury down in the third round with a left hook, stunned the boxing world, leading to the Cameroonian suggesting he could continue in boxing.