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Morning Report: Brendan Schaub questions sustainability of Francis Ngannou’s ‘game-changing’ PFL contract

UFC 260: Miocic v Ngannou 2
Francis Ngannou
Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC

Francis Ngannou is making waves in the MMA world like never before.

Practically as soon as “The Predator” won UFC heavyweight gold with a thumping knockout of Stipe Miocic in March 2021, discussions of an epic Jon Jones matchup possibly materialized along with hopes to secure more fighter freedom. Fast forward to this week and Ngannou achieved his goal, signing with the PFL as a fighter and brand ambassador, leading the new PFL Africa department of the promotion as chairman and minority equity owner.

Ngannou’s new deal is lucrative in more ways than one, providing the feared knockout artist with a reported high-seven figure payout for his fights among numerous other benefits. As someone who has always been outspoken about fighters getting what they deserve, Brendan Schaub couldn’t be happier for the Cameroon native. However, the former UFC heavyweight contender-turned-podcaster raises concern about history repeating itself.

“It’s a long time coming,” Schaub said on Instagram. “Shoutout to Francis Ngannou. He said what he was gonna do, he set out to what he was gonna do, he got a lot of hate, a lot of pushback. His agent Marquel [Martin] and him got it done. Don’t forget Marquel. He was a big advocate in getting Francis to kind of go on this path that hasn’t been done before. Shoutouts to them, Francis, Marquel, the PFL for taking a chance on Francis.

“All of it’s all good. Biggest contract, guarantees his opponents $2 million, he gets a portion of the gate, pay-per-view percentage, guaranteed money, it’s completely game-changing for the sport of MMA. It’s huge. It’s massive. This is all good.

“My question is not with Francis, we know Francis got a great deal, so hats off to Francis,” he continued. “The question is, is it a great deal for the PFL? History would say no. The leagues that throw all this money at the fighters, Affliction, other leagues, they’re not around anymore. I don’t know if you can sustain a business model giving Francis all this money, all this power. I don’t know if it’s capable. I hope it is, I hope it works out. It would change the game forever.”

As part of Ngannou’s contract, he’ll be exclusive to PFL’s upcoming PPV superfight events as opposed to the foundational season tournament format. The promotion was — and still is — expected to launch its PPV events in 2023, starting for $50 on ESPN+ with a goal of two events per year. Originally, the plan was to have four events with one each quarter, according to PFL founder Donn Davis in March 2022. Things have changed in recent months, and other superfight PPV-exclusive fighters like Kayla Harrison are wishing and hoping there will at least be one to close out 2023.

With the current season underway, Schaub would like to see Ngannou get involved and back in action earlier than his estimated timeframe. “The Predator” most recently fought in January 2022, defending his UFC title via unanimous decision against Ciryl Gane before undergoing knee surgery and recovering for the remainder of the year. A pro boxing debut looks to still be possible and in the cards for Ngannou where big-name options are easy to find. It might not be the same in MMA at the moment, unfortunately.

“Also something to note, he says he won’t fight until 2024,” Schaub said. “PFL is a tournament-style platform. That’s their business model, it’s a tournament. So, Francis is gonna skip the tournament and go against heavyweight standards? And they’re saying there’s gonna be a tournament and the winner of that fights Francis? I’d rather see Francis in the tournament.

“Other question: who’s he gonna fight? Name five PFL heavyweights. Go. I can’t name ‘em either. So, they’re gonna have to make PFL an attractive kind of secondary option outside the UFC, which they’ve done because now you’re guaranteeing him these huge paydays. I think you’re gonna see some free agents come over to the PFL for that guaranteed payday of $2 million that Francis said is in the contract. My question again is: name heavyweights who are gonna be free agents soon that you would pay to watch Francis fight on pay-per-view? Is this model sustainable for the PFL? Let’s find out.”


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Roundtable. Was Francis Ngannou’s free agency gambit a success? Plus predicting his first PFL opponent

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A faceplant front kick knockout? That’s video game stuff.

Thanks for reading!



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