Francis Ngannou, free agent
Francis Ngannou has been the most high profile free agent MMA has likely ever seen. Even when Fedor Emelianenko was in the UFC’s offices all those years ago, trying to come to a deal that worked for all parties involved, it wasn’t at this level. Francis has avenues that Fedor never did because boxing crossovers were extremely limited and the folks with Team Fedor had a line drawn in the sand, co-promotion with M-1 Global, which we all knew was never going to fly.
Fast forward to the present, where Francis Ngannou has just made big announcement today, revealing that he’s signed with PFL. John Nash has since revealed details of Ngannou’s contract negotiations and perks that have been revealed by his sources. By my calculations, no fighter in the history of the sport has achieved what Francis will have.
According to Marquel Martin, Francis Ngannou has negotiated on his own behalf, without the benefit of formal representation since last September when the MMA division of CAA was shuttered. Martin, a friend and confidant of Ngannou, revealed that he sometimes acts as an advisor, but Francis is largely representing himself. Some of the things the Cameroonian-born champion had on his wish list stood as a testament to things he’s said in the past about bettering the sport for all fighters.
- $1M guarantee for his opponents
- Better sponsor deal
- Health insurance
- Fighter advocate in board meetings
For himself, he wanted the ability to book boxing matches, no champion’s clause, a shorter contract and a lot of money. Walking around as the undisputed king (sorry Jonny Bones, you aren’t undisputed) of the division that the UFC puts so much stock in puts Francis Ngannou in the unique position to be able to make those demands and by all accounts, he may have succeeded on a lot of these.
What details are available?
John Nash clarified that inside sources revealed to him that Francis will get just shy of an 8-figure-per-fight deal with the ability to have boxing matches. He also said he heard the demand for the opponent to get paid fairly has also been met. Ngannou will also have a short contract (between 2-3 fights only) with no champion’s clause, so once he’s fulfilled his contract, that will be it, unless he decides to re-sign with them. He will get a percentage (not points) of the PPV. He will get a piece of the gate.
What about the PFL?
The PFL, on the other hand, is putting a ton into this deal. Make no mistake, this is a huge risk for them. They currently don’t have anyone for him to fight, making the rumors of them looking at buying Bellator seem quite plausible. Their first PPV absolutely tanked and their live gate sales are not great. This is a huge gamble that could pay off in a big way or it could put such an economic strain on them that they spend an inordinate amount of time recovering from it.
For Francis Ngannou, it’s nothing but net, all gravy, the cherry on top, but for the PFL, it’s rocky terrain with a lot of hurdles still needing to be jumped. When John and I recorded this episode last week, we knew Francis was on the brink of making his announcement, but more details came through over the weekend so we made a quick update at the beginning of the show and the remainder is what we recorded last week. Please help us spread the word about the new and improved Bloody Elbow by sharing our work with your friends and family. You can also find our previous conversation from four months ago on Ngannou’s options here.
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