Francis Ngannou seeks MMA redemption with announcement as boxing dream ends

Francis Ngannou seeks MMA redemption with announcement as boxing dream ends

Ex-UFC champion Francis Ngannou is set to return to MMA competition in September or October against PFL champion Renan Ferreira, putting a pause on his venture into boxing.

The PFL revealed Ngannou‘s return to MMA after Ferreira’s brutal first-round TKO victory over Ryan Bader during a unique cross-promotion event featuring PFL vs. Bellator. Ferreira’s 21-second win secured him the “PFL Champion vs. Bellator Champion” Super Belt and the opportunity to face the former UFC champion.

After his victory, a passionate Ferreira called out Ngannou to a fired-up crowd, with the latter present. But Ngannou left his spectator seat early, preceding a potential face-to-face standoff in the cage, consequently robbing the fans and promotion of any build-up value from his attendance.

Ferreira addressed Ngannou’s absence from the post-fight faceoff, expressing regret over the missed promotional opportunity. It was noted that Ngannou’s contract with the PFL stipulates that his opponents will receive a minimum of $2 million, a condition arising from Ngannou’s previous dealings with the UFC, where he felt financially disadvantaged.

“I feel like money in a situation like this is a consequence of your work. I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for the body of work I put together,” Ferreira said after beating Bader. “But it does have to be said the amount of respect I have for Francis for lobbying for his opponent.”

“To make sure that his opponent is taken care of. It’s immense,” he continued. “It just shows how great of a champion he is and the character and the man behind the athlete. It’s something I commend and applaud him for.”

Ngannou made his boxing debut against lineal heavyweight champion Tyson Fury in 2023, but he lost a split decision at the Kingdom Arena in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Despite the defeat, Ngannou showcased his trademark power by knocking Fury down in the third round with a powerful overhand left before losing the fight.

The ex-UFC champ’s following boxing match dashed hopes among MMA fans for his transition into the sport. Anthony Joshua utilized routine fundamentals to secure an easy victory with a brutal right-hand knockout, sending Ngannou to the canvas in just two rounds.

The one-sided nature of the fight prompted Ngannou to take to social media to apologize to fans who had purchased tickets to witness his performance. He acknowledged his subpar performance on the night. “Sorry guys, I let you all down,” he said on Twitter.

“Today was a bad day in office but tomorrow will be another day. Thank you all for the love. You can be sure I’m not done here,” he continued. “It wasn’t my day. He [Joshua] was much better than me today, it sucks but it’s the game.”

Ngannou’s UFC journey established him as one of the most feared fighters in the promotion’s history due to his power, highlighted by significant victories over Alistair Overeem and a championship win against Stipe Miocic in March 2021. Following his successful defense and unification of the title against Ciryl Gane at UFC 270, Ngannou’s reign ended when the belt was vacated due to his contract expiring.