Francis Ngannou: Ex-UFC heavyweight champion signs with PFL

Francis Ngannou has signed a fight deal with the Professional Fighters League, with the mixed martial arts promotion also handing the ex-UFC champion equity in the company.

Ngannou, 36, vacated the UFC heavyweight title in January upon deciding to leave the promotion, and his next move has been the subject of intense speculation ever since.

It has now been announced that the Cameroonian has signed with the PFL, which will give Ngannou ‘equity’ per The New York Times.

Ngannou, seen as arguably the greatest knockout artist in UFC history, is set to make his PFL debut in the ‘Super Fight’ division next year, with his aim being to compete in boxing in 2023.

“I believe in the PFL’s ‘fighter first’ culture and global vision, including developing the sport in Africa,” Ngannou said on Tuesday (16 May). “With that, I am also proud to announce that I will serve as chairman of PFL Africa, which will be the leading MMA organisation on the continent, providing great African fighters the opportunity to compete on a global platform.”

Ngannou’s relationship with the UFC grew fractious in recent years, with the company unwilling to entertain his wishes to box, according to the Cameroonian.

Ngannou last fought in January 2022, retaining the UFC heavyweight title against then-interim champion and former teammate Ciryl Gane.

The result marked the first decision win of Ngannou’s career, in which his professional record stands at 17-3. Twelve of Ngannou’s wins have come via knockout, with eight of them taking place in Round 1 and three of them occurring inside the first minute.

Knockout artist Ngannou employed an unexpected wrestling approach to win his last UFC fight (Getty Images)
Knockout artist Ngannou employed an unexpected wrestling approach to win his last UFC fight (Getty Images)

Ngannou won the UFC heavyweight title by knocking out Stipe Miocic in 2021. Miocic, seen by many as the greatest heavyweight in UFC history, previously retained the title against Ngannou by outpointing “The Predator” in 2018.

In March, UFC light-heavyweight great Jon Jones won the title vacated by Ngannou. Jones submitted Gane in the first round and is expected to fight Miocic next.

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