Francis Ngannou explains unprecedented PFL deal and how it will help his opponents

Francis Ngannou has revealed that his PFL opponents will receive a base pay of $2million as part of his deal with the promotion, marking an unprecedented move in combat sports.

Ngannou, 36, vacated the UFC heavyweight title in January upon deciding to leave the company, and his next move had been the subject of intense speculation until Tuesday, when he announced that he had signed with the Professional Fighters League.

The promotion will give Ngannou ‘equity’ per The New York Times, and the Cameroonian confirmed that he will serve as the chairman of PFL Africa. Furthermore, he told MMA Fighting on Tuesday (16 May) that his opponents will receive a guaranteed pay of $2m to fight him.

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. Explaining his deal, Ngannou told MMA Fighting: “It’s not about years, it’s about fights. Let’s just say it’s not for many fights, [but] it is a multiple-fight deal. But most importantly, what you have to understand here is that this is a strategic partnership.

“For example, PFL Africa isn’t something that’s gonna be for two years; that’s for life. We’re gonna work on it basically forever, so there’s not a time limit on that. The amount of years doesn’t really matter, we’re already in business. Even if there isn’t a certain number of fights, that’s easy to work on.

“I got myself a pretty good guarantee, and guess what: They’ve given a pretty good guarantee to my opponent. My opponent is going to have a base salary, a guarantee of $2m when we fight. He can negotiate for more. As far as mine, I get a little more than that – let’s say that.

“[But] I didn’t want to fight someone who worked his way to be in that position, then [take all the money]. If some guy is getting in the ring with me today, he must be ‘the guy’ – there’s no question about that. Regardless of the fact that you’re fighting, you’re on the same side.

“If they give me a lot of money and don’t pay my opponent… I didn’t want to have that feeling that it’s all about me. It’s about the fight, it’s about fighters. Let’s make sure that the guy I’m fighting is going to afford anything that he needs to be at that level.”

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. He 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.

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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