According to Randy Couture, Francis Ngannou’s move to PFL should prompt other heavyweight fighters to consider free agency

Francis Ngannou stirred up the MMA world with his decision to leave the UFC heavyweight title in order to become a free agent. Signing a standout contract with the PFL only added to the commotion. Dubbed the “most lucrative” deal in MMA by PFL CEO Peter Murray, Ngannou’s agreement not only grants him the freedom to pursue a boxing match on his own terms but also provides equity in the company, a seat on the PFL’s athlete advisory board and even the title of chairman of PFL Africa. Such offers were seemingly never on the table with the UFC, hence Ngannou’s initial decision to leave.

According to Randy Couture, a UFC Hall of Famer and current PFL color commentator, it was not about the money. The UFC’s financial offer was already substantial in regards to the industry’s standards. Instead, Ngannou craved something more; a voice in the organization, recognition on the advisory board, a more communicative staff. The PFL’s willingness to offer these additions ultimately drew Ngannou in.

Couture himself had once attempted to fight against Fedor Emelianenko outside of his UFC contract, but such a matchup was never made possible. Couture sees Ngannou’s actions as a beacon of hope for the sport, as fighters having more power during contract negotiations is something he has wished for.

While Ngannou may be an outlier in his contractual leverage as a heavyweight champion, his signing with the PFL sets the stage for others to search for the same type of negotiation power. Kayla Harrison and other PFL fighters have already experienced the benefits of the meritocracy being offered by the company. Ngannou’s deal only adds to this ideal; fighters being undervalued and under recognized by promoters is an issue that needs addressing.

Ngannou’s newfound wealth also offers a boon to any potential opponents he may face. As part of Ngannou’s deal, the PFL must provide his opponents with a minimum of a $2 million payday, easily surpassing most fighters’ current earning capabilities.

While Ngannou’s inactivity until 2024 may provide time for other heavyweight contenders to act, Couture advocates for the current PFL fighters to become Ngannou’s first opponent. The possibilities presented by Ngannou’s contract reflect a bright future in which fighters can receive the recognition and compensation they deserve.


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