Francis Ngannou needs to tell PFL to fix their mistake

Francis Ngannou claimed he would represent fighters at the PFL table. Time for the heavyweight to follow through on his promise.

By: Tim Bissell | 3 months ago

Francis Ngannou has the power

Francis Ngannou escaping the UFC and getting to test free agency like no other MMA fighter has before is a clear win for the sport and fighters everywhere.

That rare, and exciting, free agency period ended when ‘The Predator’ announced he had signed with the PFL for an eye-watering amount of money and a package of perks the likes of which had never been seen.

In addition to huge purses, Ngannou was also reportedly able to secure a number of conditions which he has trumpeted as victories for his fellow fighters, especially those in the PFL. Among those are the guaranteed $2 million pay day for his PFL opponents, the establishment of a PFL training centre and pro fighter pipeline in Africa and his inclusion on the PFL advisory board.

Francis Ngannou discusses his deal with PFL.

“I have a seat at the table of the fighter advisory board, [the] first active fighter to be [on] this board,” said Ngannou when he talked about his new deal. “I take this matter very seriously. It’s going to mainly be a board that will be advocating for fighters for the benefit of the sport and the fighters, not for the promotion, but for the fighters, because there are always two parties at the table and most of the time we forget the other party which are most important: fighters.”

Well… Francis, now’s the time to put all that power to good use.

PFL made a very bad move

On Friday night the PFL matched two best friends to fight each other in the quarterfinals of their lightweight million dollar tournament. Raush Manfio went on record saying he didn’t want to fight Natan Schulte, the godfather to his daughter, and was hoping the bout would fall through.

It didn’t, though. Manfio and Schulte squared off at PFL 6 and engaged in a tepid sparring exchange – the kind you’d expect from two guys who have zero desire to hurt each other.

Manfio and Schulte were forced to fight out this charade despite the fact they were both 1-0 in PFL competition this year and another quarterfinal on the card featured two fighters who were both 0-1.

Schulte won the fight by unanimous decision leading to an emotional display with his friend in the middle of the cage.

The win sent Schulte into the tournament semifinals, one step closer to a million dollar prize.

PFL couldn’t stomach that, though. So they suspended both men and booted Schulte from the semis, giving his place to Shane Burgos (a big money acquisition who is coming off a flashy, yet not spectacular UFC run, and a disappointing start to his PFL career).

PFL claimed that Schulte and Manfio did not live up to their contracts, presumably because they did not try to kill each other in a fight that was created by the PFL.

Schulte has now responded online, stating he is “very unsatisfied” with the suspension.

In his tweet, Schulte called on Francis Ngannou to make things right.

“You remember Francis Ngannou’s fight against Derrick Lewis he didn’t throw 6 punches in the whole fight and he wasn’t cut for his performance that night,” wrote Schulte. “So I ask you Francis Ngannou since you protect the rights of the fighters, do you think this decision is correct?”

Time to for Francis Ngannou to show if he means what he said

Schulte is right to call out Ngannou. Though, it would have probably been better received if he didn’t include some razzing about Ngannou’s most embarrassing fight to date.

Despite that, now is the time for Ngannou to show if he meant what he said about his blockbuster deal benefiting more people than just him.

He is supposedly the voice of fighters at the table where the big decision makers and power-brokers sit. So what is he going to say to them? How is he going to create positive change for fighters who have been wronged by the promotion?

Anything less than the PFL rescinding Schulte and Manfio’s suspensions and placing Schulte back in the semifinals (along with an apology) is an L for the promotion and their biggest star.

You simply can’t talk a big game about speaking truth to power and then not deliver. That would be like going into a fight with a reputation as the hardest striker in the sport and… just throwing six punches.

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About the author
Tim Bissell
Tim Bissell

Tim Bissell is a writer, editor and deputy site manager for Bloody Elbow. He has covered combat sports since 2015. Tim covers news and events and has also written longform and investigative pieces. Among Tim's specialties are the intersections between crime and combat sports. Tim has also covered head trauma, concussions and CTE in great detail.

Tim is also BE's lead (only) sumo reporter. He blogs about that sport here and on his own substack, Sumo Stomp!

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