Renan Ferreira, Ryan Bader expect winner of PFL vs. Bellator champs fight to face Francis Ngannou

The stakes going into the PFL vs. Bellator: Champions main event between Renan Ferreira and Ryan Bader are about as big as it gets.

Not only do Ferreira (12-3) and Bader (31-7) get the opportunity to headline the inaugural event of the new era since PFL acquired the Bellator brand, but the Feb. 24 card at Kingdom Arena marks the first for the promotion in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Moreover, the biggest perk of all is that the winner could get a matchup with Francis Ngannou.

Despite Ngannou (17-3) shining in the boxing world since his UFC departure, the former UFC heavyweight claims he will be returning to MMA competition in the future after his March 8 bout with Anthony Joshua. He signed with PFL to compete in MMA, and both Ferreira and Bader the winner between them will get awarded that fight.

“One hundred percent (I want to fight Ngannou),” Bader said at a Wednesday press conference in Hollywood, Fla. “That’s one of the fights – he’s got his boxing fight coming up, but I think it’s perfect timing. We get this done and the winner gets that opportunity. Francis is coming over, a former UFC champion, he just had an amazing fight with Tyson Fury and put everybody on notice. So to have the ability to go out there and prove to everybody, to go out there and get that win, that’s huge. I’m not looking past Renan, but get that done, 100 percent.”

Ferreira echoed Bader’s sentiments.

“If everything goes as planned, yeah,” Ferreira said through an interpreter. “After Feb. 24, Francis is the name. And that being said, I’ll be able to go however he wants to do it. If he wants to do it in MMA, in boxing, we’ll be ready.”

For now, both athletes are focused on each other. The potential $2 million minimum payday said to be promised to the opponent for Ngannou in PFL is a big motivator, but an experienced veteran like Bader has seen and done it all at the highest level under the UFC and Bellator banners.

Bader said he won’t make the mistake of overlooking Ferreira, who at 6-foot-8, is nothing short of a powerhouse finisher. Ferreira doesn’t have the same level of resume as Bader, but he’s keen for the opportunities that could be ahead of him.

“I think he’s a great athlete,” Ferreira said. “His wrestling credentials speak for themselves. He mixes it quite well with his striking, too. I’ve said it before and I will say it again: It’s a great honour to face off with him.”

For more on the card, visit MMA Junkie’s event hub for PFL vs. Bellator: Champions.

Story originally appeared on MMA Junkie