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Why did Francis Ngannou decide to leave UFC and sign with PFL?

The former UFC heavyweight champion has now signed with the Professional Fighters League, but why exactly did he leave the UFC in the first place?

The former UFC heavyweight champion has now signed with the Professional Fighters League, but why exactly did he leave the UFC in the first place?

Having announced his new contract with the PFL, fight fans have understandably turned their attention to the details of his new deal as well as who he’s likely to face in any upcoming bouts. Yet, there are still questions surrounding the circumstances under which the Cameroonian-French fighter left the UFC.

Francis Ngannou announces PFL deal

According to his comments on Tuesday, Francis Ngannou has signed a contract with the Professional Fighters League. The news of course, brings an end to the intense speculation that surrounded the former UFC heavyweight champion’s future and what he intended to do with his career after effectively becoming a free agent.

“The past few months have been a very interesting time to understand and see the landscape, but I’m very excited about this deal with the PFL because they basically showed what I was expecting,” he said recently. “They didn’t just show up as a promotion that was looking for a fighter, but really came as a partner that sees more value in you as a person.”

What do we know about Francis Ngannou’s contract with the PFL?

As per a report from Bloody Elbow, Ngannou’s deal will see him committed for two or three fights, with an assurance that he will be receiving a “high seven-figure” purse for each bout. Further to that, “multiple sources that had knowledge of his negotiations and the agreement have informed Bloody Elbow that this deal would not only make him one of the highest-paid fighters but also give him an almost unheard of level of freedom and favorable terms,” the report read.

Regarding what those favorable terms are, it’s understood that Ngannou will receive a split of the profits for his events, as well as the right to have his own sponsorship deals displayed in the cage. Indeed, part of the deal even sees him now taking on the role chairman for PFL Africa. The venture has been described as “an expansion initiative to produce events on the continent.” To that end, PFL chief executive Peter Murray said PFL Africa is intends to launch in 2024, before adding that the promotion expects to be staging events on the continent by 2025.

Why did Francis Ngannou leave the UFC?

If you’re wondering, the last time that the 6′4″, 257-pound heavyweight stepped into the cage was when he clinched a victory by unanimous decision over Ciryl Gane at UFC 270 in January 2022. Prior to that, he knocked out Stipe Miocic to become the UFC heavyweight champion, a title he vacated when he was released by the UFC from his contract in January of this year. So, what exactly happened? As you will see in our report on the shock move when it occurred, there are a number of different narratives surrounding what happened. That being said, when all details are stripped away, there was a stall in negotiations between the two parties i.e., one or both were unhappy with what was being offered or demanded.

To hear UFC president Dana White tell it, “...We offered Ngannou a deal that would make him the highest-paid heavyweight of all time,” White said at the time. “He turned it down. We’re going to release him from his contract. He can go wherever he wants and do whatever he wants.” On the other hand, if we take Ngannou’s most recent comments into consideration, it would appear that he didn’t feel like he was being treated in a fair and empathetic way. Regardless, the former champion now has a new path before him, and by the looks of things he doesn’t intend to look back.


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