PFL CEO Remains Confident former UFC Champion Francis Ngannou will make his return to MMA in 2024

Francis Ngannou

PFL CEO Peter Murray remains confident that Francis Ngannou will make his Smart Cage debut in 2024 even though he has already booked a boxing bout with Anthony Joshua.

“We’re really proud and happy for Francis, but he will be returning to the cage later this year after the Joshua fight,” Murray told MMA reporter John Morgan earlier this week.

“Francis is gonna take on both sports,” he added.

Last week, renowned combat sports journalist Ariel Helwani broke the news that Ngannou would head back to Riyadh for a clash with former unified heavyweight world champion Anthony Joshua. Though not officially announced, the bout is expected to go down on March 8 in the Saudi Arabian capital.

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Francis Ngannou says pFL debut might not happen this year

Speaking with Helwani on a recent episode of The MMA Hour, Ngannou suggested that there is a chance he won’t compete in mixed martial arts before the end of 2024. Aside from his fight with Joshua, ‘The Predator’ is gunning for a rematch with reigning WBC heavyweight champion Tyson Fury. Ngannou went toe-to-toe with ‘The Gypsy King’ in his pro boxing debut last fall, coming up short by way of a closely contested split decision.

A rematch clause between the two requires a potential sequel to get underway within one year of their first meeting which went down on October 28, 2023

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However, Murray can’t see the PFL stepping aside for a third time after signing a ground-breaking deal with the former UFC heavyweight titleholder almost a year ago.

“Francis is committed to the PFL,” Murray said when asked about the possibility of Ngannou staying in boxing for the rest of 2024 if he beats Joshua. “He’s committed to continuing competing in MMA, so we don’t expect that” (h/t theScore).

Ngannou has not competed in MMA since defeating Ciryl Gane in January 2022.

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