The Professional Fighters League (PFL) – a five-year-old mixed martial arts company fighting to become a household name – signed an exclusive deal with former UFC heavyweight champion Francis Ngannou to boost visibility for its newest division.
Under the strategic partnership — which is being billed as the “most valuable” deal for a single fighter in the sport of MMA – Ngannou will fight exclusively in the league’s Pay-Per-View Super Fight Division, which launched earlier this year in part to upend the “antiquated business model of MMA,” according to the PFL.
The division, co-created with social media influencer turned-boxer Jake Paul, ensures that fighters earn 50% of the revenue from PPV events.
PFL CEO Pete Murray told Fox News Digital that Ngannou will effectively boost the league’s credibility as it edges its way to becoming a global leader in the sport, which had long been dominated by the UFC.
“He’s a major anchor,” Murray said. “You will see other major fighters come to the PFL, and in particular to our Super Fights Pay-Per-View Division, given we have the best talent in the world.”
Although Ngannou underwent knee surgery earlier this year, Murray expressed confidence in the athlete.
“We’re confident in where Francis is as an athlete and what he plans to take on… as an elite fighter as well as a business partner,” Murray said.
Ngannou’s debut in the division is pegged for mid-2024. Ngannou will also serve on the PFL Global Advisory Board to ensure the organization stays “true to our fighters first culture,” Murray said. Additionally, Ngannou will serve as the chairman and equity owner of PFL’s upcoming league in Africa.
He is “playing a role globally to help build not only the sport but the company,” Murray said.
Although still in its infancy when compared to the UFC, the league has been eyeing global expansion since launching its first international regional league in Europe this past fall.
Within the next two years, it plans to have six regional leagues in place including PFL Africa, PFL Asia, PFL Latin America and Middle East and North Africa.
The PFL has four franchises and is also filling up its roster with sports figures including Paul and Muhammad Ali’s grandson, Biaggio Ali Walsh.
The PFL, which reached a $500 million valuation in its last round of funding, was founded by venture capitalist Donn Davis in 2017 and is backed by high-profile investors including Ares Capital, Luxor Capital and Elysian Park Ventures.
It has captured the attention of prominent sports figures such as former Yankees slugger Alex Rodriguez given its unique approach to the sport.
Murray said the company is not only “disrupting” the sport by providing the only format where fighters compete in a regular season followed by playoffs and championship fights but by giving fighters some “skin in the game.”
“We partner with them,” Murray said in regard to its Super Fight Division. “They have the opportunity to make more money, compete on the global stage and compete against top talent.”