The PFL can argue it now has “the baddest man on the planet” on its roster, and apparently he wasn’t as hard to come by as some people might imagine.
On Tuesday, the PFL announced the signing of former UFC heavyweight champion Francis Ngannou to a multifight deal exclusive to MMA. Although it was a lengthy process since Ngannou became a free agent this past December, having fought out his UFC contract and waiting out his championship clause, it was an easy deal to get through, at least according to Ngannou.
“It was easy,” Ngannou told DAZN. “I think it was the easiest choice made because from Day 1 that I talked to them, I understand their vision, their global vision, their vision for the sport.
“Personally, I didn’t say it in the meeting, but I saw the direction and it personally aligned with what I was looking for and everything that they were coming up was pretty much what I was looking at. Then we get to other details of the deal, and they gave me a really good deal. Out of everyone, this is the best deal for me, for what I want and for the values and my principles.”
Five months went by from the time Ngannou became a free agent to the time he signed with PFL, and during that stretch Ngannou was ridiculed and faced plenty of criticism even from current and former fellow fighters such as Conor McGregor, Daniel Cormier and Chael Sonnen. Many believed that Ngannou made the wrong choice by leaving the UFC and that he should go back.
Ngannou was well aware of the chatter surrounding him but will not fire back now that he’s got a lucrative deal in hand.
“When you’re doing stuff that people don’t understand your vision and where you’re coming from and where you’re going, it’s hard for people.” Ngannou said. “… They are not in your shoes, so unless you explain it to them, they will not know. There will be a lot of speculation, there will be a lot of doubt, but I was never nervous about it because just so you know, that was a three-year process (to reach free agency) and I finally get there on my own. I thought about it day and night, so it wasn’t an overnight decision.”