By Dane McGuire
When now former UFC heavyweight champion Francis Ngannou exited the promotion and was stripped of the belt, he became the hottest free agent in the sport. Having signed a historic deal with Professional Fighters League, he now has a role beyond being an athlete.
Ngannou is set to debut in the cage in 2024 as part of a new “super fight” division. His deal with the PFL is exclusive to MMA, allowing him to pursue his interest in boxing. The signing benefits future opponents as well. ‘The Predator’ has since said opponents will get $2 million guaranteed. Ngannou will be earning half the pay-per-view profits
Behind the scenes he will also head up PFL Africa and be part of an advisory board for fighters’ interests.
UFC President Dana White has since given his reaction, saying the deal doesn’t make sense. White said to media outlets at UFC Vegas 73’s post-fight press conference:
“Based on what I know about the deal, which is not much, it makes no sense to me,” White said Saturday night in Las Vegas. “You’re going to pay a guy not to fight for a year, and it’s already been like  months. He’s fought three times in the last three years.
“It’s just not what we do here. It’s not what we do. And the day that we released him, I knew exactly what was going to happen. Francis wants to take zero risks, doesn’t want to take any chances, and he obviously didn’t want to take a chance with Jon Jones — and after we saw what happened with Ciryl Gane, I don’t blame him. I think the outcome would’ve been exactly the same, and I’m sure most of you do and I’m sure Francis does too.”
White said of the deal allowing Ngannou to box:
“PFL is going to pay this guy to train for a boxing match that may not even happen and that they might not even be involved in. How does that make any sense?” White said. “It doesn’t make sense to me. Anthony Joshua called it a gimmick fight this week.
When asked about that fight, he’s like, ‘I’m focused on fighting the best guys in the world. I’m not interested in a gimmick fight right now.’ And that’s one of the big problems with boxing right now, is it’s all about these gimmicky type fights, and that’s just not what I do here. It’s not what I do.
“…I know how this story ends. I get what Francis is doing. I wish the PFL all the luck in the world. I wish him all the luck in the world. It’s just not what we do here.”