Francis Ngannou and Ciryl Gane are due to meet at UFC 270 on January 22 to unify the UFC heavyweight title. By now everyone has heard that Ngannou and Gane used to be training partners at the MMA Factory in Paris under the tutelage of Fernand Lopez.
Ngannou split from that camp after losing to Stipe Miocic for the title at UFC 220 in 2018. Gane has remained.
Recently, Lopez went on The MMA Hour with Ariel Helwani to discuss the upcoming fight between his past and present students. Lopez also discussed his feelings towards Ngannou. And it seemed as though the coach felt ‘The Predator’ was a tad ungrateful for past services rendered.
“Do you know how sad this is?” said Lopez (per sportskeeda). “Do you know that if you find fighter in UFC and you want to check video of him saying thank you to his gym, you will have 10 thousand videos of each fighter. Do you know that? The thing that fighters say most in their lives is, ‘Thank you to my coach. Thank you to my gym.’? This is as a reflex. This is like, boom, right away this is what they’re doing. There’s a guy out there, he’s proud of the fact that people found a video – a clip, a video – of him saying to me thank you because Jerome Le Banner, that I brought to his corner, said to him, ‘Please say thank you, you always forget to say thank you to Lopez.’ Go check the video.”
The incident Lopez is referring to is Ngannou’s post-fight interview at UFC 218 in 2017, where Ngannou defeated Alistair Overeem by KO to set up his first title fight with Miocic. That video is below.
It’s hard to tell what K-1 legend Le Banner said in Ngannou’s ear, but Lopez maintains that this was a prompt to thank him.
Since their split Ngannou hasn’t been shy when it comes to criticizing Lopez. He has said that he feels his coach was obsessed with chasing the limelight and grew jealous when Ngannou’s fame rose in MMA and beyond.
Lopez and Ngannou are both originally from Cameroon. Lopez first met Ngannou when the fighter was homeless on the streets of Paris, having endured a harrowing journey across Africa and Europe. Lopez stressed this while talking with Helwani.
“This guy wasn’t even legal,” he said. “Was in all kinds of legal trouble. I was feeding him. I give him everything. How come that you have pride to say that based on a video where you are saying thank you. Wow! This is what I’m talking about.”
Lopez also told a story of Ngannou allegedly causing a woman to be stranded at an airport because he was unwilling to loan her money for parking.
“It’s so hard to [explain this],” said Lopez (ht sportskeeda). “[My girlfriend was] travelling from Francis Ngannou’s first fight…[She forgot her wallet in the hotel room]…so she took the flight with Francis to get to Paris. She had the car that she left in the airport [in Paris]. Francis asked, ‘Can you drop me?’, and she said yes. And she asked Francis, ‘do you mind to pay me the parking, and I’ll wire you the money?’ and Francis said, ‘Oh, can you find another way?’”
Ngannou and Lopez will be across each other in the Octagon for the first time in January. Gane has gone on record saying he isn’t thrilled with the story-line for their fight being something like ‘friends turned foes’.
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