Morning Report: PFL’s Donn Davis says ‘everybody won’ in Francis Ngannou deal, UFC ‘made their business decision’
The PFL and Francis Ngannou have seemingly opened up a new world of possibilities in MMA.
Opportunity has been PFL’s big point of enticement for fighters since rebranding from WSOF in 2018. At the heart of the promotion are its tournament-based seasons, which award the yearly winners with $1 million. Going forward, PFL intends on expanding with other avenues like pay-per-view events, leading to the part where superstar fighters like Ngannou come into play.
Ngannou parted ways with the UFC as the heavyweight champion this past January after failing to renegotiate his contract and achieve more combat sports freedoms. Ultimately, everything “The Predator” desired was found in the PFL as a fighter and businessman. From PFL Founder Donn Davis’ perspective, everything about the move is a big win for the MMA world as a whole.
“Every business is easy until it’s yours,” Davis told My Mom’s Basement. “So, I respect other people’s business decisions. Look, a lot of the internet is into winners and losers. Whether it’s football trades or the Francis Ngannou deal. I view this as win, win, win. This is a great deal for Francis for all the reasons it’s discussed online and social. This is a huge win for PFL, opens our pay-per-view division, we got Francis and Jake [Paul] as headliners in 2024. Probably the two most exciting fights you could ever have other than Conor [McGregor], who’s still a sensation. It brings a huge audience draw to our media product, it is gonna bring in other fighters you’ve seen see the way to another great platform in the PFL.
“It’s also a win for UFC. They’re gonna be just fine, they made their business decision and they’re still the leader in the game. So, a lot of people want to make this ‘winners and losers’ — everybody won here. The fourth winner is all the other top-ranked MMA fighters in the world. If I’m a fighter, May 17 was the best day of my life because I saw there’s another path. PFL has the same distribution UFC does, ESPN and DAZN … ESPN in terms of pay-per-view in the U.S., DAZN in terms of pay-per-view internationally. We’re in 150 countries on media, UFC’s in 150 countries on media, and we have the same production and the same platform capabilities they do.”
The Ngannou deal just further exemplifies that fighters have at least two great options when exploring free agency now more than ever, according to Davis. Detailing more of Ngannou’s specific deal, the top heavyweight’s contract isn’t one entity thanks to his fighter status and positions as PFL Africa Chairman and board member. As a fighter, Ngannou is contracted to be a PFL roster member for three fights in two years while his contractual obligations outside the cage are “forever.” If the latter truly is the case, one would imagine it would make any future MMA fight negotiations with other promotions interesting or nearly impossible for the 36-year-old Ngannou.
No opponent has been specified yet for the Cameroon native as he intends to delve into the boxing world before his projected PFL debut in 2024 — a venture he’ll do free of any PFL restrictions. Davis highlighted that the promotion didn’t feel ready to launch its pay-per-view events in 2023 as originally planned but will do so with two in 2024 followed by two in 2025. When the time comes for the planet’s hardest hitter to fight again, Davis promises it will be a must-see affair.
“To me, what’s so fun here is the mystery box of candy and everything is going to be good,” Davis said. “There’s been all kind of speculation, ranging from the PFL season to [Fabricio] Werdum. I believe it will be something else and bigger and more exciting than you’ve read so far. We have nine months — nine months ago, people would have laughed if we said Francis was gonna come to the PFL. So, if I speculated what we would do now, people would equally go, ‘Poo-pa, that will never happen,’ (laughs). But believe me, don’t discount our resourcefulness, our creativity … who Francis will fight will be more interesting than what is speculated on the internet today.”
Waiting. Khamzat Chimaev claims UFC has fight for him, calls out Kamaru Usman: ‘I’m going to squeeze your head off’
Beef. Aljamain Sterling responds to ‘moron’ Sean O’Malley: ‘How many times did you fight in the last year?’
Thoughts. Matt Brown happy for Francis Ngannou but ‘it certainly doesn’t look good for PFL’ to find longterm success
Banter. Sean O’Malley shrugs off Aljamain Sterling’s injury hurdles ahead of UFC 292: ‘It’s called discipline’
Welterweight. Belal Muhammad: Colby Covington getting ‘a little bit desperate’ in interviews, ‘nervous’ he’ll lose title shot
Speculation. Chael Sonnen questions why Khamzat Chimaev is in limbo with Paulo Costa fight off the table
Movie. Ex-UFC fighter Brandon Vera plows down zombies in new Filipino horror film
War Room: Kara-France vs. Albazi.
Volk and Craig Jones.
Flying scissor attack.
Heck of a Morning. MMA Fighting’s Mike Heck discusses who Israel Adesanya will fight at UFC 293.
Ray Longo said on the most recent episode of Room Service Diaries with @lthomasnews & @BCampbell that Chris Weidman, Matt Serra & Aljamain Sterling all live within 3 miles of the Serra-Longo gym. All champions. It’s incredible what Longo and that team has done for Long Island.
— Hannah Rose (@mrsmmacasual) May 23, 2023
“Netflix is not even on our radar screen in terms of competition.” Blockbuster CEO 2008
“What PFL is doing makes no sense to me.” UFC President 2023#MMA #PFL #PFLMMA #UFC #DanaWhite
— Donn Davis (@DonnDavisPFL) May 22, 2023
MMA at its most MMA.
That time a fighter had his eye glued shut between rounds when event staff were repairing a logo on the cage and superglue dripped on his head. He wiped it off thinking it was vaseline and glued his eyelid closed. Fight was ruled a NC.
Carlos Lobo / WOCS 25 https://t.co/33bq0jFVmz pic.twitter.com/zXyleVhKNk
— caposa (@Grabaka_Hitman) May 23, 2023
Can always rely on the stairs.
Davis is being pretty generous to the UFC. I don’t see how it’s a win for them at all. I wouldn’t say it’s a loss because he’s right that they’ll be fine like always … but losing the literal best fighter in a division can’t ever be viewed as a good thing.
Thanks for reading!
With UFC Vegas 74 headlined by Kai Kara-France and Amir Albazi next weekend, do you think there should be more flyweight main events?
If you find something you’d like to see in the Morning Report, hit up @DrakeRiggs_ on Twitter and let him know about it. Also, follow MMAFighting on Instagram and like us on Facebook.