Can the PFL really challenge the UFC in the long run?

PFL co-founder and chairman Donn Davis

We are just eight days removed from the news that shook the MMA world where the PFL signed former UFC heavyweight champion Francis Ngannou (17-3) to an exclusive MMA contract. The deal was massive for the promotion and for Ngannou.

Ngannou is getting a high guarantee in terms of his salary, his opponents are guaranteed a minimum of $2 million to fight him, and he was named chairman of PFL Africa. Ngannou fought out his UFC contract and the promotion waived their right to match back in January.

From there, Ngannou went out and shopped his services. From the jump, the PFL was the favorite behind the scenes. ESPN’s Brett Okamoto did a tremendous job of taking a deep dive into the negotiations that led to Ngannou signing with the promotion and leaving behind his UFC heavyweight championship.

Over this past weekend, Dana White said that the deal that was made made no sense to him. He pointed to the fact that Ngannou will be getting paid despite not fighting for over a year and pointed to his inactivity only having three fights in the past three years.

While White said that the PFL has always been professional and he doesn’t have a beef with them, he said their current model makes no sense to him. He talked about their money raising efforts in the middle east, and potential interest in acquiring Bellator MMA. While White’s comments were subtle jabs at the promotion, PFL’s founder Donn Davis had a interesting reply on Twitter.

Can the PFL challenge the UFC?

The PFL is making waves and there is no denying that. I mean they signed Jake Paul (regardless of what you think of him) and now they just signed Francis Ngannou. They still have Kayla Harrison in the fold and have been slowly growing a very talented roster.

They are currently looking to raise additional funds from investors in the Middle East. This is similar to what the UFC did with Abu Dhabi back in 2010 where they bought 10% of the promotion. This also opened the door to a ton of business between the nation and the UFC which has continued to today.

There have been a lot of rumors surrounding PFL being interested in Bellator. Ariel Helwani reported yesterday that they are not one of the front-runners currently and that the rumor isn’t true. However, there’s been some smoke there and that could further the promotion’s case as a challenger to the UFC.

Dana White had a simple quote regarding the promotion and Ngannou and that quote simply was, “I know how this ends.” Since taking over the UFC with the Fertitta brothers, White has essentially drove all of his competition out of business and ultimately, the UFC acquired their competition.

From Pride to Strikeforce, anyone who has gotten in their way, they’ve defeated. That said, can PFL really challenge them? I believe they can. If they get the right investors and also if they are able to pull off a Bellator acquisition, I believe they can really do some big things.

Will they ever defeat the UFC or be bigger than the UFC? I have serious doubts. The UFC, until I’m proven otherwise, will always be the top promotion in the game. However, I think the PFL can make things very interesting with the right moves. Signing Ngannou was the right move. Time will tell just what kind of a threat they turn out to be towards the biggest dog in the yard.