Former UFC heavyweight champion Francis Ngannou signs with PFL

After an acrimonious end to his run in the Octagon, former UFC heavyweight champion Francis Ngannou has found a new home: the PFL.

Announced on Tuesday, Ngannou will join Jake Paul and Kayla Harrison in the company's Super Fight division which is reserved for pay-per-view events only.

According to the release, he will make his debut in mid-2024 "against a major global MMA star fighter to be chosen in the future."

One of the main drivers for his issues with the UFC at the end of his run was money and their inability to come to a deal he felt was fair. With the PFL, Ngannou will earn 50% of revenue from PPV fights.

The 36-year-old rose to prominence in the UFC starting in 2015 with his vicious knockout power. With five straight wins punctuated by highlight reel finishes over Alistair Overeem and Andrei Arlovski, Ngannou earned his first title shot against then-champion Stipe Miocic at UFC 220 in January 2018. He was dominated by Miocic's wrestling in a rout and then followed that up with a listless loss to Derrick Lewis that summer in one of the most-panned fights in recent history.

He would rally, stringing together four straight first round finishes over Cain Velasquez, Junior dos Santos and others before earning his second title shot in a rematch over Miocic. He rolled to victory, taking home the title at UFC 260 via second round knockout.

After later refusing to take a fight on the UFC's schedule, the promotion created an interim title to Ngannou's dismay that showed the fraying of their relationship. He would return to unify the belts at UFC 270 in January 2022, defeating Cyril Gane in a unanimous decision. He would later have knee surgery and his UFC contract eventually sunsetted as the two sides couldn't come to a deal.

This past January, UFC president Dana White said Ngannou would never fight for the organization again, released him, and claimed they made him an offer to be the highest-paid heavyweight in MMA history. Ngannou said the offer was for $8 million to fight Jon Jones as part of a multi-fight contract while he had requested a three-fight deal to fight Jones twice and Miocic with no renewal clause.

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PFL is calling this a "strategic partnership" as Ngannou will be an equity owner and chairman of PFL Africa, a subdivision of PFL that will crown champions on that continent with an eye toward having them compete for the PFL Global title. This follows their launch of PFL Europe earlier this year.