Renan Ferreira to sit out 2024 PFL season to wait for Francis Ngannou, vows to be ‘a big problem for him’

Renan Ferreira doesn’t plan on fighting until he faces Francis Ngannou.

The 2023 PFL heavyweight champion walked through Ryan Bader in the main event of PFL vs. Bellator earlier this month in Saudi Arabia, which was promoted by PFL as a bout to determine who will welcome former UFC champion Ngannou to the company.

Ferreira told MMA Fighting that he will not enter the 2024 PFL season and will instead opt to wait for Ngannou to resume his MMA career first. “The Predator” shocked the world in 2023 with a split decision defeat to Tyson Fury in boxing, and now faces Anthony Joshua on May 8. Ngannou’s return to MMA could be delayed again depending on what happens against Joshua, as well as the result of Fury’s upcoming title clash with Oleksandr Usyk on May 18.

“At the moment, we will sit and we will wait,” Ferreira said. “I’ll get some rest. I’ve been fighting in [PFL tournaments] for three years and it’s very exhausting. I fought in November and had no rest, I had to fight in February already, so my body is tired now. I need some time to recover physically and go back to training, so I’ll be waiting for this fight, quite anxiously. I’m very happy for this opportunity, and I hope it happens soon.”

Ferreira said he’s confident Ngannou will compete under the PFL umbrella eventually since the Cameroonian champion is under contract with the promotion and PFL already advertised that the winner of Ferreira vs. Bader will get Ngannou next.

Ferreira admits, however, that he was surprised to see Ngannou walk away from the Kingdom Arena in Riyadh without doing an in-cage faceoff to promote a future bout.

“It surprised me a little bit,” Ferreira said. “I thought he was going to go up there, that we would do the faceoff. I saw he had an uncomfortable smile on his face. I think he felt this is for real, that this is a big problem for him. There’s a guy coming and he’s not fooling around, he’s hungry for the victory.

“[Ngannou] is on this boxing adventure that is opening many doors and I have huge respect for him, but he has a contract with PFL. Like I said, I’m ready to box him as well, I’m ready to fight him in MMA. Wherever they want, I’ll be ready.”

Ferreira is 13-3 with a trio of no-contests in MMA, and has stopped his opponents in 11 of his professional wins. Ferreira finished four rivals in less than a minute since joining PFL, and claimed the 2023 heavyweight championship with a brutal knockout of Denis Goltsov.

Ngannou hasn’t competed in MMA since a decision victory over Ciryl Gane to defend his UFC heavyweight title in January 2022, which capped off an intense six-fight win UFC streak before he made history by departing the promotion as champion. “The Predator” knocked out his prior five opponents, from former UFC champions in Stipe Miocic, Cain Velasquez, and Junior dos Santos, to contenders in Curtis Blaydes and Jairzinho Rozenstruik.

“It was great motivation for me to have Francis Ngannou watching me there,” Ferreira said. “He’s seen me fight before and has spoken greatly about me, and that was extra motivation. This fight interests me a lot. To fight a champion like him, a really tough guy, it’s a fight the whole world wants to see. I was happy to have him there, and I didn’t feel any pressure. To have Mike Tyson there, great names like Jon Jones, people that have made history.”

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