Francis Ngannou, a former heavyweight champion of the UFC, made a lot of money when he revealed on May 16 that he had joined the Professional Fighters League. By switching to PFL, he will be able to compete in boxing this year in addition to MMA, receive a guaranteed high seven-figure wage each bout, and have sponsors in the PFL cage. Ngannou is the Chairman of PFL Africa and a member of the PFL Global Athlete Advisory Board. Even though he signed this contract that changed the game, “The Predator” isn’t anticipated to play in the PFL until sometime in 2019.
The MMA community has differing opinions on Ngannou’s choice; some believe he made the right choice by signing with the PFL, while others believe he should have remained in the UFC. MMA fans were eager to see Ngannou take on Jon Jones if he had continued competing for the UFC. In the PFL, it’s debatable whether a rival can match the intensity of a match with Jones.
According to various news sources, the former UFC Heavyweight Champion might have earned more money by competing against Jones had he retained his title than by signing a PFL deal. The PFL agreement, though, permitted him to continue boxing and to work behind the scenes, where he also promoted possible fighter benefits.
What UFC President Dana White thought about losing Ngannou to PFL was a topic of much interest. White was asked about the contract during the post-press conference at UFC Fight Night 224 on May 20, and he didn’t hold back.
White expressed his disapproval of the PFL and Ngannou transaction while making clear that he was not familiar with all the terms.
“Based on what I know about the deal, which is not much, it makes no sense to me. I mean, you’re going to pay a guy not to fight for a year, and it’s already been like 18 months. He’s fought three times, and the last three years, it’s just not what we do here. It’s just not what we do, and the day that we released him, I knew exactly what was going to happen, and Francis wants to take zero risks. Doesn’t want to take any chances,” said White.
The UFC President mentioned Jones and said he thought Ngannou wasn’t terrified of him but didn’t want to take a chance on losing.
He added, “PFL is going to pay this guy to train for a boxing match that may not even happen, and they may not be involved in. How does that make any sense?”
Ngannou challenged Anthony Joshua to a bout, but White said that Joshua isn’t interested because he might face boxing legend Deontay Wilder later this year. He also thinks Ngannou is incorrect in thinking he can have a significant crossover bout like Conor McGregor vs. Floyd Mayweather.
In addition, White discussed the PFL’s business decision to sign the former UFC Heavyweight Champion. He acknowledged that PFL has never treated him disrespectfully, but he is perplexed by PFL’s corporate choice.
“I have no beef with the PFL. I mean, these guys have always been super professional, you know, never talked any smack. You know me, if I don’t like you, whether it’s De la Hoya or an organization out there, whatever it is, I don’t hold back. I’ll let you have it, but what they are doing makes no sense to me,” said White.
He continued, “…I’m hearing that they’re raising money right now, $280 million, $300 million, I don’t know what the number is from the Middle East, and I’ve done a lot of business in the Middle East, those guys are sharp. I don’t know who in the hell would give them $280 million because what if I’m hearing they’re buying Bellator right? So you’re in an organization that is burning cash, has no ratings, and selling no tickets, and you are going to raise $280 million to buy a company that’s burning cash, sells no tickets, and does no ratings. It sounds fcking absolutely genius to me.”
White wished the PFL and Ngannou success but was perplexed by the organization’s choice to allow Ngannou to try competing in boxing while barring him from company competition for more than a year. Given that the major names in the heavyweight category, including Deontay Wilder and Anthony Joshua, are set to fight each other later this year, it is unknown who Ngannou will face in competition.
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