Former UFC heavyweight champion Francis Ngannou has inspired quite a share of MMA fighters with his successful deal with the PFL. While many publicly praised the ‘Predator’ for the way he was able to have all his wishes granted in the new contract, others also saw an opportunity if they could earn a crack at Ngannou themselves.
With Ngannou’s deal not only being lucrative to himself, the $2 million payout for his next opponent has also served as a fantastic recruitment tool. So who is lining up to get that big payday?
Francis Ngannou is an inspiration for JDS
One such athlete is former UFC heavyweight champion Junior dos Santos, who talked about Francis Ngannou’s new contract in high regard during an interview on MMA Fighting’s podcast Trocacao Franca. In the conversation, ‘Cigano’ said he admired what he the Predator was able to accomplish, while emphasizing that professional fighters should work together to get more benefits in future deals.
“Ngannou’s actions are admirable, because you know for sure it comes from a person that has values and won’t change those values for small gifts of whatever it may be,” dos Santos said. “Why did anything like this never happen before? Because people focus on themselves first. [They say], ‘I’ll get something for me and screw the rest.’ It didn’t feel that way with Francis Ngannou. It felt important for him to make a difference.
“MMA fighters and martial artists in general are very happy to hear what he’s saying,” dos Santos said of Ngannou. “To see him open new doors and break barriers that were always there, and no one questioned — he’s questioning them, and he’s managing to break many of them. This is so cool of him.”
Junior dos Santos eyes boxing match against Ngannou
While Francis Ngannou has signed a contract with the Professional Fighters League, the deal also allows him to take boxing fights at the same time. For that reason, dos Santos believes it would make for a great show if the pair could meet again in the ring.
Having faced Ngannou in the UFC in a fight he ended up losing by TKO in 2019, the Brazilian is making himself entirely available for a rematch in the boxing ring this time around. However, the former UFC champion would not discard a regular MMA fight at PFL, too. Especially when considering the purse.
“If he needs me, I can be his first opponent to test himself in boxing.” Cigano said.
“I’m 100 percent in,” he said with a laugh, responding to Ngannou’s demand that no one that fights him in PFL gets paid less than $2 million. “That shows his values. He wants change. He knows there’s no point changing things only for him, it has to change the system. Work together to make things better for promoters and make sure fighters have the support and special attention they need.”
Cigano hasn’t won a fight in four years
Junior dos Santos (21-10) has seen better days in his MMA career. Away from the cages since a shoulder injury TKO loss to Yorgan de Castro in May 2022, the 39-year-old rides a five-fight losing skid, all knockout losses. During this time, Cigano lost to the aforementioned Castro, Ciryl Gane, Jairzinho Rozenstruik, Curtis Blaydes and Francis Ngannou. The former UFC champion’s last win dates back to March 2019, when he knocked out Derrick Lewis.
Meanwhile, Francis Ngannou (17-3) is on a six-fight winning streak, with victories over Ciryl Gane, Stipe Miocic, Jairzinho Rozenstruik, Junior dos Santos, Cain Velasquez and Curtis Blaydes. The 36-year-old’s last loss took place in July 2018, when he dropped a unanimous decision to Derrick Lewis at UFC 226. For now, the Preador does not have a date or opponent for his PFL debut.
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