What are the chances the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) and Professional Fighters League (PFL) would co-promote a fight? Slim to none, but Randy Couture hopes the promotions can come together for Jon Jones vs. Francis Ngannou, one of the biggest fights in mixed martial arts.
Earlier this month, Francis Ngannou signed a multi-fight agreement with PFL, which received mixed reactions from his fellow fighters, including newly crowned UFC heavyweight champion Jon Jones. After the ‘Predator’ left the promotion, ‘Bones’ and Ciryl Gane were scheduled to fight for the newly vacant UFC heavyweight championship, which Jones won via first-round guillotine choke at UFC 285 this past March. Though most of his attention went to Stipe Miocic for his first defense, Jones gave some to Ngannou, who he said was a ‘big ol’ p—y’.
Jones and Ngannou continued to exchange words, with ‘Bones’ slamming his potential opponent for going ‘across the street’ and signing with the PFL instead of re-signing with the UFC. To which Ngannou responded with an invitation to ‘cross the street,’ so they can finally fight. Of course, since Jones is in the UFC and Ngannou is in PFL, a fight would only happen if there was co-promotion, something PFL analyst Randy Couture could see if the promotions agreed.
“The TV part of that, the network and exposure part of that is solved because both entities are on ESPN,” said Couture on MMA Junkie Radio. “I think the landscape of our sport and the contracts, the restrictive contracts in our sport, are going to prevent that.”
Randy Couture shares his experience with UFC co-promotion
Randy Couture has some experience with trying to get into co-promotion. When the ‘Natural’ tried to get a fight with Fedor Emelianenko in 2007, the UFC rejected the offer from M-1 Global to do so — not because of money, but because of co-promotion, according to Couture.
Though he could see a similar scenario here with Jones and Ngannou, Couture says the PFL would work with the UFC.
“I think they would be happy to entertain co-promotion between another promoter and themselves to make a big fight like that happen,” said Couture. “Certainly in the pay-per-view model they’re getting ready to roll out. So I don’t think that’s out of the question there.”
Francis Ngannou open to co-promotion for Jon Jones
For Francis Ngannou, he is still interested in a potential fight with Jones. However, the Cameroonian fighter concedes it is a ways from happening now that they compete in other promotions.
“I will always have a regret of not fighting Jon Jones,” said Ngannou on an episode of DC & RC. “I think you know, being in the sport, being in this position, what you want to do is to test yourself against somebody like Jon Jones, who stands as a GOAT of the sport.
“Still this day, I’m like, if ever there is an opportunity to fight Jon Jones, we will do it,” continued Ngannou. “But I don’t know how. Maybe a cross promotion? I don’t know. But Jon Jones is somebody that anyone that’s looking to make a legacy in this sport would like to fight.”
Despite signing with the PFL, Ngannou is not expected in the SmartCage until 2024.
Thank you for reading this article. Please consider subscribing to the Bloody Elbow Substack to enjoy our daily premium content. Your paid subscriptions are helping build our new site and keeping hope alive that our staff will remain intact. If you haven’t already, please pledge with a paid subscription today.
Join the new Bloody Elbow
Our Substack is where we feature the work of writers like Zach Arnold, John Nash and Karim Zidan. We’re fighting for the sport, the fighters and the fans. Please help us by subscribing today.
About the author