Francis Ngannou expected to face Ryan Bader vs. Renan Ferreira winner in PFL debut

Francis Ngannou will find his next opponent after the PFL vs. Bellator card on Saturday.

The former UFC heavyweight champion, who faces Anthony Joshua in a boxing match on March 8, confirmed plans to return to MMA and make his long awaited debut in the PFL in the near future. He won’t have to wait long to find out who he’s facing with Bellator champ Ryan Bader scheduled to clash with PFL champ Renan Ferreira with the winner expected to move onto face Ngannou.

PFL officials announced the news on Thursday after Ngannou addressed the possible fight during an appearance on SportsCenter.

“I think the winner of this is the guy I’m going to fight in my MMA return,” Ngannou said. “It is my intention to return to the sport. When exactly, I think depends on March 8. Everything depends on March 8.

“[Bader and Ferreira] are both champions and one of them is going to be a champ-champ. So, I think there wasn’t a better way to find an opponent for m, since I am a champion myself, just in case you have forgotten.”

Bader and Ferreira previously called for the winner to welcome Ngannou to the PFL after he inked a lucrative deal to join the promotion following the end of his career in the UFC. Not long after signing with the PFL, Ngannou booked a boxing match against linear heavyweight champion Tyson Fury, which delayed his eventual return to MMA.

Ngannou ended up scoring a knockdown on Fury and took him to a razor-close split decision. That led to Ngannou being ranked by the WBC in boxing and then he was booked for the fight against Joshua in March.

Win, lose or draw, it appears Ngannou remains steadfast about returning to MMA, although there’s no exact timeline when that would happen.

“The PFL is excited to announce Francis Ngannou’s return to MMA in the PFL PPV Division will be against the winner of the PFL Champion vs Bellator Champion Heavyweight super fight between Renan Ferreira and Ryan Bader,” PFL CEO Pete Murray said in a press release. “Francis is a true combat sports icon with a global fan base and appeal.

“We, along with the rest of the MMA world, will be watching to see who his first opponent will be, Ferreira or Bader.”

Bader previously told MMA Fighting that a fight against somebody like Ngannou would be worth the wait, even if that meant he had to sit on the sidelines for an extended period of time.

“I am at that point in my career, 40-something fights now, that’s what I want to do. I want these bigger fights,” Bader said. “This fight [against Ferreira] came along and it’s a big fight. It’s something new. It’s champ vs. champ so that was awesome. [Francis Ngannou] is something you wait for.”

As part of his deal to sign with PFL, Ngannou not only negotiated a handsome fee for his services but he got the promotion to agree to a minimum $2 million payday for his opponents. It looks like either Bader or Ferreira are now vying for the opportunity to cash in when they meet on Saturday.

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