PFL recently inked a blockbuster deal with former UFC heavyweight champion Francis Ngannou. While some are seeing a lot of upsides to these developments — especially for Ngannou, the other part of the conversation is the potential financial repercussions for the organization.
Speaking from the lenses of a veteran fight promoter, UFC president Dana White is questioning the PFL’s business decisions, particularly with the Ngannou signing.
Dana White critiques PFL’s business decisions
White was asked about the Ngannou signing during the UFC Vegas 73 presser, to which he gave a lengthy response, jumping from one topic to another. With regards to the PFL, he particularly addressed rumors about the organization’s supposed plans to purchase Bellator.
“I have no beef with the PFL. These guys have always been super professional and never talked any smack. You know me. If I don’t like you — whether it’s De La Hoya or another organization out there or whatever it is — I don’t hold back, I’ll let you have it. What they’re doing makes no sense to me, their business strategy.”
“I’m hearing they’re raising money right now, $280M, $300M, I don’t know what the number is, from the Middle East. And I’ve done a lot of business in the Middle East. Those guys are sharp. I don’t know who in the hell would give (PFL) $280M because I’m hearing they’re buying Bellator.”
Based on what he sees as the PFL’s caliber in terms of an MMA promotion, he isn’t very optimistic about the outcome.
“You’re an organization that’s burning cash, have no ratings and selling no tickets, and you’re gonna raise $280M to buy a company that’s burning cash, sells no tickets, and does no ratings. That sounds absolutely f—ng genius to me.
“I know how this story ends. I get what Francis is doing. I wish the PFL all the luck in the world. It’s just not what we do here.”
“Their last champion, or maybe their current champion, lost to Tybura. And then the champion now lost to Jiri Prochazka in the first round, who isn’t even a heavyweight. Francis doesn’t want to fight these two guys now. This whole thing is just a bunch of bullshit.”
Conor McGregor speaks on the PFL-Ngannou signing
The PFL-Ngannou story continues to stir up talks within the MMA community. UFC superstar Conor McGregor was also asked about it in his recent conversation with Ariel Helwani for Matchroom Boxing, and for him, PFL just doesn’t have the capacity to create the same buzz as the UFC.
“Who’s he gonna fight? Who’s he gonna fight that’s gonna capture the general public? There’s no one.
“There’s no matchup that I can think of that I can even say to myself, ‘That is gonna do big.’ I’m happy for him, I just don’t see a buzz on the announcement. I can’t see a name that’s gonna make me (get up from my seat). I can’t see it.”
What Francis Ngannou thinks of Dana White as a promoter
From his end, Ngannou is completely content with the deal he struck with PFL, something he referred to as the “best business decision” he’s ever made. As for the UFC, he was left stunned by what was presented to him as Dana White’s idea of promotion.
“I was like, ‘I feel like I’ve been in a promotion lately without a promoter. I don’t have a promoter anymore,’” Ngannou said, recalling a conversation with White over dinner. “I said this to him, ‘I don’t feel like I belong.’
“[White said,] ‘What do you mean? Have you ever wanted to come to an event and you don’t get tickets? Or have you ever wanted to go to the P.I. and couldn’t access?’
“For a moment I thought about it and I was like, this guy is so good. Look at how he switched the situation. So I’m working my whole life to have access to events and the P.I.?”
Ngannou’s last UFC appearance happened at UFC 270 in January 2022, where he defeated Ciryl Gane in his first title defense as heavyweight champion.
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