Professional Fighters League launches MMA competition for Africans, names Ngannou as chair

Left to Right: Maxwell Djantou Nana, PFL Welterweight; Shido Boris Esperanza, PFL Lightweight; Sadibou Sy, 2022 PFL Welterweight World Champion; Pete Murray, CEO, PFL; Tope Lawani, Co-founder and Managing Partner of Helios Investment Partners; Kunle Lawal, PFL Welterweight; and Juliet Ukah, PFL Strawweight fighter.

The Professional Fighters League (PFL), the global mixed martial arts (MMA) franchise, has unveiled its plans to create a competition for Africans. 

PFL announced the decision at an event held in Lagos on Wednesday.

The newly established PFL Africa will introduce an engaging sports-season format with a regular season, playoffs, and championship featuring top African fighters at all events to be hosted on the continent for the first time.

Francis Ngannou, former UFC heavyweight champion, will chair the African league partnered with Helios Sports & Entertainment Group.


According to Peter Murray, the chief executive officer (CEO) of PFL, the African project will commence by the second quarter of 2025.

He added that the bouts will be hosted in Nigeria and other African countries and are part of the franchise plan to create a “Champions League of MMA”.

Murray said the initiative will ensure that African mixed martial artists do not have to leave the continent for elite training in the sport, adding that “that will happen right here in Nigeria and throughout the continent of Africa.”


“This is really about providing the athletes the opportunity to compete and earn a living as professional athletes. PFL Africa is an established African entity that will be led by an African management like Francis [Ngannou]. It is a true African company that we are launching.

“In the long term, we will develop not only talents that we sign into the league but also amateur fighters and give them the opportunity to become professionals. Also, at the grassroots level, we will commit resources to working with various organisations to help kids become well-rounded elite athletes early on.”

On his part, Tope Lawani, co-founder and managing partner of Helios Investment Partners, said the need to tap the underserved talent of African youth spurred the company’s partnership with PSL.

“We are looking forward to partnering with the PFL, a world-class organization, and with Francis Ngannou, who is a manifestation of the success of African talent on a global stage. This marks HSEG’s fourth investment following our successful partnership with the NBA in Africa.


We see several areas of direct synergies between PFL Africa and HSEG’s existing unique portfolio, and we are excited by the opportunities such collaboration can bring to the continent.”

Juliet Ukah, a Nigerian fighter in PFL, said the establishment of PFL Africa aligns with her dream of bringing MMA to young girls in the country.

“My dream is to have a gym here in Nigeria, train young girls to have confidence in themselves and make them proud,” she said.

“I am happy that the PFL is coming down to Nigeria, and I think this is a good dream to achieve.”


PFL was launched in 2018. The promotion signed Francis Ngannou into its ranks in 2023 after the latter exited UFC over contractual issues.




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