Former UFC champ Francis Ngannou heading to the SmartCage after joining Professional Fighters League
Former UFC champ Francis Ngannou is set to swap the octagon for the SmartCage next year after joining the Professional Fighters League.
Former UFC heavyweight champion Francis Ngannou has joined the Professional Fighters League and is set to make his debut in the middle of next year against an opponent not yet chosen.
Ngannou was stripped of his title after leaving the UFC in January, having failed to agree terms on a new contract, and the Cameroonian was linked with a sidestep into boxing's blue riband division.
Bouts against Tyson Fury, Anthony Joshua and Deontay Wilder have been mooted and could still happen as Ngannou's deal with the PFL is "exclusively in MMA", where he will compete in the Super Fight division.
The division, which also includes YouTuber Jake Paul and a two-time winner of the PFL's lightweight tournament Kayla Harrison, offers combatants 50 per cent of the revenue from pay-per-view fights.
"I am very excited for this game changing partnership with the Professional Fighters League to continue my MMA fighting career," said Ngannou, who will also serve as chairman of PFL Africa.
"I believe in the PFL's 'fighter first' culture and global vision including developing the sport in Africa."
Ngannou has compiled a record of 17 wins and three defeats in MMA, becoming one of the UFC's top stars when he avenged a loss to Stipe Miocic in March 2021 to become heavyweight champion.
He successfully defended the title by outpointing Ciryl Gane in January 2022 but was sidelined for the rest of last year after undergoing a knee operation.
A much-hyped contest against the returning Jon Jones failed to materialise as Ngannou left the UFC, with the 36-year-old blaming a lack of "freedom" for his departure.
Jones beat Gane by first-round submission for the vacant heavyweight title in March.