Did Francis Ngannou make the right call becoming a free agent? Our roundtable weighs in and also speculates on his first PFL rival

MMA fighter Francis Ngannou has completed a “strategic partnership” deal with Professional Fighters League (PFL), making him one of the most unique and groundbreaking deals in the sport’s history. Ngannou, who had departed UFC heavyweight champion, will get at least two big paydays, a seat at the table for fighters, and the opportunity to put PFL stakes down in Africa.

Ngannou came out on the other end with a $2m purse over which most MMA heavyweights would drool. Meanwhile, the PFL is trying to buy credibility by purchasing the most sought after free agent in the marketplace. While Ngannou has secured a major victory with his unprecedented, multi-pronged partnership, the contract may be a risk for the promotion if Ngannou cannot deliver and the promotion goes under.

Ngannou also has complete freedom to pursue fights in boxing, making him a unique commodity in MMA. Ngannou will debut mid-2024, with the minimum $2m purse won by his next opponent. This has given rise to much speculation as to who Ngannou’s first opponent will be. Al-Shatti suggests that this timeline may prove to be an advantage for Ngannou, as he may face top UFC heavyweights pursuing free agency and looking for a life-changing payday.

Opinions differ as to whether PFL executives will seek to bring big names to fight Ngannou or give him the 2023 heavyweight tournament winner. While it might look good for the business if a PFL fighter took out Ngannou, it would not appear to be a viable option.


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