Donn Davis on Ngannou’s status in the PFL

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Francis Ngannou is confirmed to compete in mixed martial arts under the Professional Fighters League’s banner, affirmed by the promotion’s founder and chairman, Donn Davis. This commitment remains steadfast despite Ngannou’s concurrent venture into professional boxing.

Having joined PFL in May, Ngannou, left UFC and vacated the heavyweight title, retains the flexibility to engage in boxing as well. Although he has not yet competed in PFL, Ngannou made his boxing debut in October, narrowly losing to Tyson Fury on points, despite knocking down the reigning WBC champion.

On March 8, Ngannou is set to return to Riyadh, the Saudi city where he faced Fury, for a boxing match against Anthony Joshua. Davis assured The Independent that PFL has no reservations about Ngannou’s continued involvement in the MMA promotion.

“I’m 100 per cent confident that Francis fights MMA for PFL – not just once, but several times,” said Davis, 61, on Thursday (15 February). “And I’m confident that Francis will be our long-term business partner. I believe that he will ultimately prove himself to be the greatest athlete in combat sports – the Bo Jackson, if you will, of combat sports.”

“I think Francis has an appetite to be a champion in boxing and to remain a champion in MMA,” Davis continued. “That’s so audacious that only someone of Francis’s character can set that goal, so I think you will see him continue to do both and continue to be successful at both.”

Davis disclosed that Ngannou’s potential first opponent in PFL could emerge from the winner of the Renan Ferreira vs. Ryan Bader bout, slated to headline the PFL vs. Bellator: Champs card in Riyadh on February 24. Following PFL’s acquisition of Bellator in November, this event will showcase champions from both promotions.

Bader, who has dominated Bellator for five years becoming a two-division champion, faces an athletic and formidable opponent in Ferreira. Davis expressed curiosity about the outcome, suggesting that the winner might stake a claim to challenge Ngannou, and he is eager to see if Ngannou accepts such a challenge.

“I believe the winner of ‘La Problema’ and Bader will interest Francis Ngannou,” Davis said. “I think whoever comes out of this [victorious] has proven themselves to truly be the No 1 contender in heavyweight MMA – not just in our organisation.

“Bader has ruled the roost in Bellator for five years; La Problema is the toughest, most athletic opponent in the world. I don’t know who’s gonna win that, but I think whoever wins that can lay claim to challenge Francis – and I’m interested to see if Francis accepts that.

“I think outside of Francis Ngannou and [UFC heavyweight champion] Jon Jones, these are the two best heavyweights in the world. People don’t think that, because of the UFC brand, but the rest of the heavyweights in the UFC are not particularly interesting. Stipe [Miocic] was, but he’s 41, he’s got one fight left. Then there’s nobody else on the rise there that’s any better or any more interesting than this match-up of La Problema and Bader.”

Ngannou’s role as the chairman of PFL Africa positions him to play a pivotal role in the promotion’s African league, set to launch in April 2025. This development follows the establishment of PFL Europe in 2023 and an upcoming Middle Eastern league in April.

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