The Professional Fighters League (PFL) has today announced (May 16) an exclusive strategic partnership with Francis Ngannou in a move that will see the US-based mixed martial arts (MMA) series expand into Africa.
Under a global MMA partnership, Ngannou, who hails from Cameroon, will fight exclusively in MMA for the PFL’s new pay-per-view (PPV) Super Fight Division, joining the likes of Jake Paul and Kayla Harrison.
PFL described the strategic partnership as “the most valuable MMA deal for a single fighter and the latest ground-breaking milestone to accelerate PFL’s mission to become the co-leader in MMA.”
Building on its launch of PFL Europe earlier this year, the series has now launched PFL Africa to “continue its international regional MMA league expansion in priority markets around the world.”
Ngannou will be a minority equity owner and chairman of PFL Africa.
The PFL said Ngannou’s “global stature, capabilities on the continent of Africa, and his strategic business relationships, combined with PFL’s vision and proven infrastructure, will ensure PFL Africa’s success.”
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PFL Africa events will be staged in key countries on the continent live in primetime to “meet the major demand for premium and consistent MMA content.”
In addition, the former UFC heavyweight champion will serve in a leadership role on the PFL Global Advisory Board, making him the first active fighter to serve on the board and represent fighters’ interests.
The PFL Global Advisory Board has been specifically established for the league to collaborate with athletes.
The Super Fight Division was launched to revamp the “antiquated” business model of MMA and to forge economic partnerships with the sport’s top stars to compete in global events, offering 50% of the revenue from the PPV fights.
Ngannou will make his PFL PPV Super Fight debut in mid-2024. Global streaming platform DAZN, a partner of PFL’s Super Fight Division, will distribute events on its PPV platform in Europe and other priority international markets.
The 36-year-old left UFC in January after failing to agree terms on a new contract with the top-tier MMA promotion.
Ngannou was seeking terms that included guaranteed health insurance for every fighter, sponsorship opportunities, and the requirement of a fighter advocate present for all contract negotiations.
When these terms were denied, Ngannou departed, making him the first reigning champion to leave UFC since BJ Penn in 2004.
PFL founder and chairman Donn Davis said: “PFL has an expansive plan to become the first true global league in sports, with international regional leagues spanning all continents.
“PFL Europe’s launch in 2023 has been a huge success, and we will have six more PFL international leagues operating by 2026 to form the first ever “Champions League of MMA” to spark national pride and determine the actual best in the world via the PFL sport-season format of “win and advance” meritocracy.”
Ngannou added: "I am very excited for this game-changing partnership with the Professional Fighters League to continue my MMA fighting career in the PFL’s PPV Super Fight Division.
“I believe in the PFL’s “fighter first” culture and global vision including developing the sport in Africa.”