Francis Ngannou signs deal with PFL, which includes flexibility to box and leadership role

Former UFC heavyweight champion Francis Ngannou is headed to the PFL.

After months of negotiating with a number of organizations, Ngannou has signed a deal with PFL, promotion officials announced Tuesday morning. Ngannou won’t take part in the 2023 regular season, which is already halfway finished and, like Jake Paul, will instead compete in the PFL’s pay-per-view superfight division.

According to a news release, Ngannou signed a “strategic partnership” that gives him equity and leadership roles within the PFL.

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“The PFL is excited to announce its groundbreaking strategic partnership with Francis Ngannou, the greatest heavyweight MMA fighter in the world,” PFL CEO Peter Murray said in a statement. “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. 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.”

According to The New York Times, Ngannou’s deal will allow him to box, a stipulation he insisted on while he was still under contract with the UFC. Ngannou plans on making his boxing debut this year and return to MMA in mid-2024. As part of the deal, Ngannou will become chairman of PFL Africa and serve on the company’s advisory board to represent fighter interests. No fights have been announced for “The Predator.”

“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,” Ngannou said in a statement. “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.”


Ngannou failed to come to terms with the UFC on a new deal after asking for requirements such as the ability to box and health insurance for fighters. According to UFC president Dana White, Ngannou turned down an offer that would have made him the highest paid heavyweight in UFC history.

After Ngannou’s departure, White later went on to say that he will never come back to the UFC.


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Ngannou, 36, hasn’t competed since unifying his heavyweight belt against former training partner Ciryl Gane in January 2022. He entered with a knee injury and underwent surgery to repair the damage after the fight.

Story originally appeared on MMA Junkie