Dana White rips into Francis Ngannou's partnership with the PFL

Dana White rips into Francis Ngannou’s exclusive partnership with the PFL, saying ‘it makes NO sense to me’… with the former UFC champion set to be a pro boxer before he makes his MMA return

  • Dana White questioned the PFL’s exclusive partnership with Francis Ngannou 
  • The Cameroonian fighter signed last week, and set to make his debut in 2024 
  • At a UFC conference, White said  PFL’s business strategy ‘makes no sense to me’ 

Dana White has said that the PFL’s exclusive partnership with former UFC champion Francis Ngannou ‘makes no sense to me’. 

Last week, the Cameroonian fighter signed with PFL to make his debut in the middle of next year, having left the UFC as reigning heavyweight champion in December due to contract disputes.

Ngannou has equity in PFL, plus a role on the board of directors, and he will also chair their expansion into Africa – and won’t even join until 2024, after he makes his pro boxing debut later this year. 

The shock move created criticism from Jon Jones – who now holds the heavyweight title – and on Saturday in Las Vegas, the UFC’s president White also weighed in with his opinion on Ngannou’s decision. 

At UFC Vegas 73’s post-fight press conference, White said: ‘Based on what I know about the deal, which is not much, it makes no sense to me.

Francis Ngannou signed an exclusive partnership with PFL last week to fight starting next year 

UFC president Dana White said the deal between the PFL and Ngannou ‘makes no sense’

‘You’re going to pay a guy not to fight for a year, and it’s already been like [14] 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.’

The 36-year-old left the UFC on a six-fight winning streak, and is currently MMA Fighting’s No. 1 ranked heavyweight in the world.

Ngannou told MMA Fighting that boxing remains his top priority while the PFL works through the ongoing 2023 season – and PFL CEO Peter Murray said they would take a hands-off approach to his boxing goals. 

White hit out at PFL’s business strategy in this regard, saying it ‘makes no sense to me’, especially with the large amounts of money rumoured to be circulating.  

He added: ‘I’m hearing that they’re raising money right now — $283 million, $300 million, I don’t know what the number is — from the Middle East, and I’ve done a lot of business in the Middle East. Those guys are sharp. 

The Cameroonian fighter left the UFC after a breakdown in contract negotiations last year 

Ngannou will be in PFL’s Super-fight division, allowing fighters to earn significant PPV revenue

‘Who in the hell would give them $280 million, because I’m hearing they’re buying Bellator, right? 

‘So you’re an organization that’s burning cash, have no ratings and selling no tickets, and you’re going to raise $280 million to buy a company that’s burning cash, sells no tickets, and does no ratings? It sounds absolutely f****** genius to me.

‘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.’

When he does eventually take part in the PFL, Ngannou will be in their Super-fight division, which allows fighters to earn at least 50% of the money that PPV brings in.

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