Francis Ngannou‘s former coach Fernand Lopez has suggested he’d rather train Ciryl Gane for free than reunite with “The Predator” for $100,000.
Ngannou began his career in MMA under the tutelage of Lopez at the renowned MMA Factory gym in Paris, France. After a spell in jail and a period living on the streets following his release, the Cameroonian was taken in by Lopez , who allowed the powerhouse to train and sleep in his gym for no cost.
After going 5-1 across the Pacific, Ngannou was signed by the UFC in 2015, and secured his first title shot on MMA’s biggest stage following six straight finishes. After falling short of gold against Stipe Miocic, and suffering a second consecutive loss at the hands of Derrick Lewis seven months later, Ngannou had an unceremonious split from MMA Factory.
Now under the guidance of Eric Nicksick at Xtreme Couture, Ngannou has scaled the heavyweight mountaintop. But while “The Predator” has fought his way to the title, a new product out of MMA Factory has been stalking him from below.
In just three years in the sport, Gane has developed a unique heavyweight style, made it to the UFC, defeated the likes of Junior dos Santos, Jairzinho Rozenstruik, and Alexander Volkov, and capitalized on Ngannou’s inability to defend the belt in August this year to become the interim champ.
Lopez Has No Desire To Train Ngannou Again
Given the history between the heavyweight king and MMA Factory, the clash between Ngannou and Gane was always going to bring up some of the disagreements and tension between the two camps in the build-up. However, not many would have expected that to hit the metaphorical front pages so soon.
It started at Madison Square Garden at UFC 268. Gane and Lopez, who were in attendance to corner middleweight prospect Nassourdine Imavov, can be seen standing backstage in a clip that went viral towards the end of the November 5 pay-per-view. In the video, Ngannou walks past his former coach and teammates without even acknowledging them. A confused Gane questioned the snub at the time and in a later interview with MMA Junkie.
After the interim champ responded, Lopez also gave his take during an appearance on The MMA Hour. After making multiple revelations about Ngannou’s time at his gym, including the heavyweight’s refusal to pay a membership fee once he started earning money and his attempt to prevent the UFC from signing Gane, the 43-year-old responded to those who think he is simply jealous of Ngannou’s success at his new gym.
After insisting that the real issue is the misconception about his attitude towards the animosity, Lopez suggested he’d rather train Gane for free than coach Ngannou again for $100,000.
“Okay, let me put it simple. If I have to sit tomorrow with Francis, talk with him (and) work with him, about something else, not training, I can’t train with him, but I can do a bunch of things with him; it’s not a problem for me. Yeah, I will appreciate this to be the past because I don’t keep that in my mind.
“What is frustrating is the misunderstanding of what’s going on. It’s not the problem that we have or the issue that we have, the frustrating point is people do not know what’s going on and they’re like, ‘Oh, he’s jealous.’ Why should I be jealous? I would prefer, if they give me right now $100,000 to go train him (Ngannou) for 10 minutes or train Ciryl for free, I will train him (Gane) for free.”
Lopez went on to claim that similar to how Ngannou is happier at Xtreme Couture, he’s content with the crop of talented and loving fighters he has at MMA Factory. With that in mind, the renowned coach reiterated that he expects nothing from Ngannou anymore.
“I’m happy for him (Ngannou). This is the thing, having a gym is not about good coach or bad coach, it’s about where you feel good. Francis do feel good with Xtreme Couture; perfect, for him. I’m very glad for him… In my way, I find my way. Which is, I have tons of guys, very nice, bringing me so much love… When you ask me that will bring me back to the situation that people do not understand… no. I do not expect anything from him. He’s a nice guy in some parts, in other parts he’s not that nice.”
While the upcoming clash between Gane and Ngannou was already an exciting one, the backstage snub, coupled with the interim champ and Lopez’s responses, has made for an even more intriguing storyline heading into UFC 270.
Who do you think will leave Anaheim with the unified heavyweight title in January, Ciryl Gane or Francis Ngannou?