Editor’s note: originally this article stated that PFL does not allow sponsorships. Xtreme Couture coach Eric Nicksick brought it to our attention that PFL allows two sponsorships.
Francis N’Gannou is the biggest free agent in mixed martial arts since Fedor Emelianenko was on the prowl in the early 2000’s. The heavyweight champ has forgone his belt in the UFC to find greener pastures elsewhere. Now the mad race for the heavy hitting World Champion has begun. The leading runner is up for much debate, and it really could be a coin toss. What I’m here to tell you today is that PFL just might be the best fit for N’Gannou and they’ve been building the framework for what N’Gannou asked for from the UFC for some time. Let’s take a peek…
The Ask: A Better Sport
For Francis N’Gannou, his asks we’re not just for more money and a better pay per view cut. Instead, he asked for a few tangibles to make life in the UFC better not just for him, but for the $10k/$10k Contender Series contract fighter.
His requests: in-cage sponsorships, health insurance, a fighter advocate in meeting’s with the UFC brass and an opportunity to box.
Unfoetunately for N’Gannou, his leverage with the UFC wasn’t enough. Being the most feared man on the planet isn’t enough to bring the behemoth that is the UFC to heel. What N’Gannou really needed was a fighter’s union. But this isn’t an article about how to get a fighters’ union. It’s about why PFL is the best fit for N’Gannou.
Francis N’Gannou and PFL: A Match Made In Heaven
For the PFL, the framework for a big signing like Francis N’Gannou has been in the work for some time. Even though they probably didn’t exactly know N’Gannou would be on the market, the moves they made might just be enough to nab him.
Let’s look at those requests from N’Gannou from earlier:
✅ Fighter advocate: when they signed Jake Paul, of all people, they announced Paul will be the head fighter advocate for the promotion.
✅ The opportunity to box: PFL has signed Claressa Shields, Jake Paul, and Clay Collard, all three of whom are allowed to and have boxed outside of the PFL.
✅ In cage sponsorships: PFL currently allows two sponsorships on their uniforms for fighters.
❌ Health Insurance: PFL does not have health insurance.
That’s a pretty good start when compared to other companies.
Other PFL Bonuses
Another few things from PFL should also be taken into consideration. I’m not talking about the picture of his mom in a PFL shirt. That’s all conjecture. There are some things we know about PFL that could come into consideration by Francis N’Gannou.
First is the million-dollar tournament. N’Gannou wants to get paid and what a better way for him to do so than a seasonal tournament. In addition to that, with the Paul signing, it was announced that the PFL was going to do more pay per view events and that athletes will get a 50% split with the promotion.
The ESPN deal is another thing to take into consideration. With a star like N’Gannou, someone who can produce electrifying knockouts, having a platform like ESPN will be a big asset for both N’Gannou and the PFL for distribution.
As for other promotions, Bellator is rumored to be on the market. So going there might find N’Gannou with new bosses that he might not like very soon. ONE Championship could provide boxing to N’Gannou but I don’t think the controlling of contracts like ONE does would have N’Gannou in the same spot as he was in with the UFC.
BKFC has a lot of money out of somewhere and has a pension for fighters. But I find it hard to see N’Gannou in bare knuckle. RIZIN can afford Mayweather and Japan loves massive fighters. But what can they bring N’Gannou? Not much.
There are others like Ares, Cage Warriors, Brave CF and other more regional that are also a long shot. Don’t count out UAE Warriors and KSW either. UAE Warriors has Saudi money and KSW has Pudzianowski. They’re also in play.
All in all, PFL is my top pick and the best bet. But only Francis knows where he would likely land. Now we wait. The signing will be the biggest in recent MMA history.
Your friendly neighborhood fight fan. I watch way too many fights and my wife lets me know it.