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PFL boss announces Francis Ngannou debut ‘no later’ than September — but gets refuted by Cris Cyborg over PPV return

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Francis Ngannou’s devastating knockout loss to Anthony Joshua a few weeks back seems to have expedited his much-anticipated return to mixed martial arts (MMA), which will serve as his Professional Fighters League (PFL) debut.

That’s according to PFL Chairman and Co-Founder, Donn Davis, who claims “The Predator” would have missed all of 2024 with a victory over Joshua. Defeating “AJ” was the key to securing a rematch against Tyson Fury, or a title bout against Oleksandr Usyk.

But since Ngannou came up short, he will be returning to MMA as early as July (but no later than September) to face PFL titan Renan Ferreira, according to Davis. “Problema” punched his ticket to the mega-fight by destroying Ryan Bader in a matter of seconds at the “Champion vs. Champion” event in Riyadh (see it again here).

“People asked me before the fight who do I think will win — and who do I want to win — and I obviously root for Francis all the time, he is our partner, and I truly do,” Davis said on a recent appearance on The MMA Hour.

“But he would not have fought until the first quarter of 2025. We talked to him about that and I was very vocal about that,” Davis continued. “He would have absolutely fought, but it would have been December at the earliest, or like February 2025. So he was locked in, but then he would have went ahead and fought Fury as we all said had he won this fight, so it would have delayed (his debut).”

“So I am rooting for Francis all the time, but now he is coming back early,” Davis said. “Will it be as early as July? Maybe. Will it be as late as September? No later. But you will now see Francis in 2024 in PFL against ‘La Problema’ in what I believe is going to be the fight I am looking forward to the most in the Heavyweight division in all of MMA.”

Davis also claimed the pay-per-view (PPV) event would include the return of Cris Cyborg.

“It will be a pay-per-view fight and the card will also have Cris Cyborg against Larissa Pacheco as the co-main event,” Davis said. “That will also have Cedric Doumbe against someone we will announce. So that fight is going to be big just because of Francis but that fight will have other very compelling matchups on it. That fight card will take place in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. The details in terms of the full card and month and timing we will announced in about two months.”

Upon catching wind of those comments, Cyborg was quick to open up her X account to offer up a rebuttal and contradict her new employer, insisting that Leah McCourt is still next on her list, not Pacheco.

“My next fight is with Leah McCourt, nothing has changed,” the Bellator champ wrote. “Let me know when she is healthy and ready to compete. Pacheco can happen but not after such a long period of inactivity. This is where a promoter is more concerned about their brand than the fighter. What’s the reason for my inactivity? I’ve got more than one fight remaining on my deal.”

McCourt was originally scheduled to face Sinead Kavanagh in a rematch this Friday (March 22) in the co-main event of the Bellator Belfast event in Northern Ireland but was later forced from the card after suffering a broken rib and a torn oblique during training.

Cyborg has been very vocal about not being able to get a fight. And with no clear timetable for McCourt’s return, coupled with Pacheco and PFL’s willingness to make this bout happen, it seems like the only logical move for Cyborg if she truly wants to end her hiatus.


For all the latest PFL and Bellator MMA news and notes click here and here.

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