PFL Exec: Francis Ngannou Debut Foe Will Be ‘More Exciting’ Than Current Speculation
The mixed martial arts community still has plenty of time to speculate on who Francis Ngannou will face when he makes his Professional Fighters League debut.
The former UFC heavyweight champion signed with the PFL earlier this month with plans to return to MMA sometime in 2024 after he pursues a fight in professional boxing. While that has led to fans looking at the league’s heavyweight roster and free agents outside the UFC’s control, PFL founder Donn Davis is confident that Ngannou’s first booking will exceed expectations.
“To me, what’s so fun here is the mystery box of candy and everything is going to be good,” Davis said on The Spinning Backfist MMA Show. “There’s been all kind of speculation, ranging from the PFL season to [Fabricio] Werdum. I believe it will be something else and bigger and more exciting than you’ve read so far. We have nine months — nine months ago, people would have laughed if we said Francis was gonna come to the PFL. So, if I speculated what we would do now, people would equally go, ‘Poo-pa, that will never happen,’ (laughs). But believe me, don’t discount our resourcefulness, our creativity ... who Francis will fight will be more interesting than what is speculated on the internet today.”
Ngannou has won his last six MMA bouts, including a five-round verdict over Ciryl Gane at UFC 270 in January 2022 — what turned out to be his final Octagon appearance. The 36-year-old Cameroonian-born Frenchman signed a deal with PFL that includes fights in the organization’s pay-per-view division, a position as chairman with PFL Africa and a spot on an advisory board representing fighter interests. He also secured a $2 million payout for his PFL opponents.
There has been plenty of debate as to whether Ngannou made the right decision for his career, and also if the PFL is getting good value with the contract. According to Davis, there are no losers involved in this instance.
“Look, a lot of the internet is into winners and losers — whether it’s football trades or the Francis Ngannou deal. I view this as win, win, win,” he said. “This is a great deal for Francis for all the reasons it’s discussed online and social. This is a huge win for PFL, opens our pay-per-view division, we got Francis and Jake [Paul] as headliners in 2024. Probably the two most exciting fights you could ever have other than Conor [McGregor], who’s still a sensation. It brings a huge audience draw to our media product, it is gonna bring in other fighters you’ve seen see the way to another great platform in the PFL.”
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