Former UFC heavyweight champion Francis Ngannou is reportedly close to signing with a combat sports promotion, and chances are it is probably the Professional Fighters League.
Francis Ngannou was back in the headlines this week, but not because he finally booked his first fight following his departure from the UFC earlier this year. No, instead he was the source of news after ONE Championship boss Chatri Sityodtong revealed that his company pulled their offer to the heavyweight star and would not further pursue a deal.
Related: ONE Championship abruptly ends Francis Ngannou negotiations
The news was surprising but not completely unexpected. The 36-year-old saw his UFC run come to a close after the promotion was not able to meet the lofty asking price he had for a new long-term contract. And since he hit the free agent market, that has often been the reason mentioned by other promotions for why he has not signed elsewhere yet.
However, one promotion that has yet to publicly remove itself from the Francis Ngannou hunt is PFL MMA.
Why Francis Ngannou is likely headed to PFL MMA
Following the news of ONE Championship being out of the running for Francis Ngannou, veteran MMA insider Ariel Helwani revealed on his podcast “The MMA Hour” that he spoke with the Nigerian yesterday and was informed that Ngannou is “close to signing” a contract with a promotion.
The former UFC champion also revealed that he took the meeting with Sityodtong out of respect since it was previously scheduled, but also to inform the ONE CEO that he already came to terms with a competing fight company.
- Francis Ngannou record: 17-3 (12 KO, 4 submissions)
During his show, Helwani also explained how PFL MMA was in the running for Ngannou and seemed to wrangle Sityodtong when brought up in a separate interview with him last week.
Since its inception in 2019, PFL MMA has not shied away from targeting notable MMA free agents and has acquired former UFC champions Fabricio Werdum and Anthony Pettis for previous seasons of the league. However, the most notable fighter they have signed yet is YouTuber turned boxer, Jake Paul.
Paul signed with the league in January with plans to compete in their pay-per-view events. A large portion of the revenue from those events will go directly to the fighters and was key in drawing the popular fighter to the league. Signing Ngannou to a similar deal while possibly allowing him to compete in boxing as well seems likely and makes a lot of sense.
If Ngannou is as big a star as he believes, he will be able to prove it in the buys of a future PFL PPV event he headlines, and he would reap major rewards if that event does well.