The Professional Fighters League (PFL), a five-year mixed martial arts company struggling to become a household name, has signed an exclusive deal with former UFC Heavyweight Champion Francis Ngannou to increase visibility for its new division.
Under the strategic partnership, billed as the «most valuable» deal for a single fighter in the sport of MMA, Ngannou will fight exclusively in the league’s Super Fight Pay-Per-View Division, which launched earlier this year. in part to change MMA’s «outdated business model,» according to the PFL.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.
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PFL chief executive Pete Murray told Fox News Digital that Ngannou will effectively boost the league’s credibility as it works its way to becoming a world leader in the sport, long dominated by the UFC.
«It’s a major anchor,» Murray said. «You will see other top fighters coming to the PFL, and in particular to our Super Fights pay-per-view division, as we have the best talent in the world.»
Although Ngannou underwent knee surgery earlier this year, Murray expressed confidence in the athlete.
«We are confident in where Francis is as an athlete and what he plans to take on … as an elite boxer and as a business partner,» Murray said.
Ngannou’s debut in the division is set for mid-2024. Ngannou will also serve on the PFL’s Global Advisory Board to ensure the organization stays «true to our fighter-first culture,» Murray said. In addition, Ngannou will serve as the president and share owner of the upcoming PFL league in Africa.
He is «playing a role globally to help build not just the sport but the company,» Murray said.
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Although still in its early days compared to the UFC, the league has been seeking global expansion since it launched its first international regional league in Europe last fall.
Within the next two years, it plans to have six regional leagues, including PFL Africa, PFL Asia, PFL Latin America, and the Middle East and North Africa.
The PFL has four franchises and is also filling out its roster with sports figures including Paul and Muhammad Ali’s grandson, Biaggio Ali Walsh.
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The PFL, which reached a $500 million valuation In its latest funding round, it 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.
He has captured the attention of prominent figures in the sport, such as former Yankees slugger Alex Rodriguez, due to his unique approach to the sport.
Murray said the company is not only «disrupting» the sport by providing the only format in which fighters compete in a regular season followed by playoffs and championship fights, but also by giving fighters some «skin in the game.» «.
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«We partner with them,» Murray said regarding his Super Fight Division. «They have the opportunity to earn more money, compete on the world stage and compete against the best talent.»