It seems unlikely that Francis Ngannou will make his return to MMA in the near future.
According to PFL founder Donn Davis, Ngannou, who is currently signed with the PFL but has not yet had his debut, will not be competing in MMA for his next fight. This decision comes after Ngannou’s impressive boxing match against WBC champion Tyson Fury, in which he lost by split decision.
“No idea, no idea, no idea,” Davis replied when asked if Ngannou’s next fight would be with the PFL during an interview with Ariel Helwani on “The MMA Hour”. “Francis is making plans. I heard him on your show. He said he’s making decisions in the next two weeks. We know what he’s working on. I think there is a path of one of two ways: I think there’s a boxing path for him next, and I think there’s a mixed fight for him next.”
Davis assured that Ngannou will compete in MMA in 2024, but it is likely to be towards the end of the year. However, his next fight will not be under MMA rules as there are currently no compelling options for him.
“I think the opponents in pure MMA are not that interesting right now,” Davis said. “We’re just like the fans. We’re just like the fighters. We’re not like the other companies, ‘Oh, let’s just do it because there are guys.’ There’s only one name in MMA right now that’s interesting for Francis Ngannou – Jon Jones. One guy.
“Everybody says, ‘What about Stipe?’ Maybe. I give him half a point. There’s 1.5 guys who are compelling. I don’t want to say who can put on a good fight for him. There’s three or four other guys who can put on a competitive fight for Francis. I’m not talking about a competitive fight. I’m saying compelling, 1.5 guys in the world, and one’s hurt for the next nine months and the other is under contract. We’re realists.”
If Ngannou chooses to return to boxing, PFL will support him, but they will not co-promote.
“We always said that that’s his business,” Davis said. “Our expertise is MMA; our global vision is MMA. Anything he needs from us, we’ll be there, but that’s his business.”
As for the other option, a mixed rules bout, Davis stated that the PFL would promote that fight. They’re interested in making it happen against Deontay Wilder, who is also keen on the idea.
“I think it would be fantastic because he already proved against Tyson Fury what he had to prove for now,” Davis said. “I think he can get back to that, and as Francis tweeted that night, ‘I’ll get back to that at some point.’ So I think he will get back to that. But what do I think would be fascinating? Deontay Wilder in a mixed rules fight.”
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