When UFC Heavyweight Champion Francis Ngannou walked away from the promotion after defending his title against Ciryl Gane in January of 2022, it didn’t take long for whispers to start. Very rarely does a reigning champion depart from the world’s premier Mixed Martial Arts promotion. In Ngannou’s case, a fight with one of the Greatest of All Time Jon Jones also waited in the wings. So why did “The Predator” elect to move on from UFC?
He wanted to build a legacy that went beyond the Octagon. With his new contract with the Professional Fighters League (PFL), Ngannou has a chance to do just that.
Ngannou has made no secret of his desire to box – a key component of his new contract allows for contests inside the squared circle, one of which Francis hopes to secure in 2023.
As far as the MMA aspect of the deal, Francis Ngannou’s planned debut takes place in 2024. The contract for the Cameroonian fighter guarantees a number in the high seven figures. Additionally, Francis will be able to wear gear advertising his sponsors during his fights – something that his UFC contract didn’t allow. In addition to the guarantees, Ngannou also gets a share of net profit’s from PFL events on which he fights.
Of course, Francis’ contract goes beyond his role as a competitor.
Building A Legacy
In the video above, Francis Ngannou highlights how he is also being named chairman of PFL Africa. Those of you who aren’t in the know on the back story of “The Predator” are unaware that the current “Baddest Man on the Planet” began working in a sand quarry in Cameroon when he was just ten years old. When Ngannou realized he wanted to pursue a career in he made the difficult decision to leave his home in Cameroon and immigrate to Europe – a journey that is deserving of a film in its own right. With his new position as Chairman of PFL Africa, Ngannou hopes to provide real opportunities for combat sports hopefuls without requiring them to make the same treacherous journey he once did.
Ngannou also expressed his hopes to move MMA as a whole forward. There have long been discussions about inequity in fighter pay – while the PFL contract doesn’t quite address those concerns as whole, it does show a step in the right direction.
In addition to Ngannou’s pay raise, the Cameroonian fighter was also able to secure a $2,000,000 guarantee for his opponents, something I find incredibly admirable. Additionally, Ngannou has secured a spot on the Fighter Advisory Board – another chance to benefit fighters and the sport in the future.
The Future for Francis Ngannou
While there are some detractors who would say that Ngannou is ducking competition or tarnishing his legacy by leaving the UFC, I can’t help but be excited about what this could mean for the future of Mixed Martial Arts.
Francis Ngannou has a real chance to improve the sport for all fighters with this new contract. While I’d love to see that hypothetical fight between Ngannou and Jon Jones, I am extremely happy for Francis and looking forward to seeing his role in MMA moving forward.
As mentioned above, he is looking to box in the squared-circle in 2023 with his PFL MMA debut slated for 2024.
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