Daniel Cormier heaped praises on Francis Ngannou for setting a new standard in mixed martial arts after joining the PFL.
Former UFC heavyweight champion Francis Ngannou was last seen in action against former interim titleholder Ciryl Gane at UFC 270 in Jan. 2022. Although Ngannou was told by the doctors to pull out of the bout, he chose to compete with severely compromised knees to complete the final match of his deal with the promotion. He utilized a surprisingly grappling-heavy gameplan to diffuse the offensive pressure of Gane and handed the latter the first loss of his professional career. Following the fight, there was a lot of speculation about whether Ngannou would re-sign with the UFC given their lengthy public feud.
Company president Dana White revealed they failed to reach an agreement with ‘The Predator’ earlier this year. Ngannou explored his options for a few months before signing a historic deal with the PFL, as announced this past Tuesday.
Daniel Cormier lauds Francis Ngannou for setting a new standard
In a recent episode of ESPN MMA’s DC & RC show, Daniel Cormier shared his thoughts on Francis Ngannou signing an unprecedented contract with the PFL. He praised Ngannou for raising the bar in the sport.
“I want to make sure that we communicate to the world that this is not a normal situation because we’re talking about the heavyweight champion,” said Cormier. “You always knew that if anyone was going to set the standard for what is out there as a free agent, it was going to be Francis. The moment he announced that he was going to be moving on, you knew that the standard in the bar would be set by Francis so any athlete can’t just go I’m going to go and do something different because Francis Ngannou did something different.
“They have to have leverage and ultimately that leverage Francis had was winning that fight in Anaheim and beating Ciryl Gane and walking away with the championship. He used it to try to accomplish something good. He feels like he can elevate the other fighters through his actions.
“Big deal for Francis Ngannou. Congratulations to the heavyweight champion on really setting a new standard for what is out there in the free agent market. It feels real after this one. It makes MMA feel real.”
Cormier believes Ngannou would find a tough opponent
‘DC’ argued against the possibility that Ngannou would not fight elite competition. He believes the financial guarantees Ngannou got for his opponent in the deal would lure top talent for a competitive showdown.
“Francis has a stipulation in his contract, at least it is thought to be that even his opponents are getting a bump in pay. It’s not just Francis that’s getting money, the guy that gets to fight him gets a payday that may even equal out to a million dollars. They’re guys that never would make a million dollars but if you step in there with Francis Ngannou, you can make a million dollars. There are very few people that can move the needle like that for themselves and for their opponents.
“Now, you think UFC, there is no organization that has talent on par with the UFC as a whole but there are outliers out there in the world where guys can really compete. You’re seeing that now in Bellator, you saw it in Strikeforce because when all the Strikeforce people came, they became champions; myself, Ronda Rousey, Luke Rockhold, Robbie Lawler. We always could compete. I think they have these outliers so to believe that Francis Ngannou is going to fight lesser competition is going to be very difficult to prove.”
Francis Ngannou is scheduled to make his PFL debut in mid-2024 with a targeted boxing match expected to take place sometime later this year.