Francis Ngannou’s coach, Eric Nicksick, has a theory on how, why and when the odds turned against Ngannou for his UFC 270 matchup against Ciryl Gane. According to the coach at Xtreme Couture, the physical layout of the UFC Performance Institute in Las Vegas had a lot to do with Ngannou going from a favorite to an underdog to Gane.
Nicksick, appearing on The MMA Hour, said that the knee injury Ngannou suffered while training for the Gane fight was the reason the odds flipped for the heavyweight title fight. He told Ariel Helwani he could pinpoint the moment the news broke about his fighter being injured.
“I knew, being a Vegas boy, I knew when I started to see the line move,” Nicksick said.
Looking at BestFightOdds, Ngannou was the -109 favorite on August 9. On January 10, Ngannou was a -110 favorite. From that date forward, the line inched up until January 13, when Ngannou moved to a +104 underdog. According to the site, Ngannou closed at +114 to Gane’s -160.
As to how word got around about Ngannou’s injury, Nicksick pointed to the physical layout of the UFC Performance Institute.
“I think it’s going to happen inherently, especially when, to me, the UFC PI is kind of flawed by design. I mean they’re a great facility, don’t get me wrong, but the training room itself is glass, so you can be working out, but you can also see Francis getting his knee taped or getting treatment done, any athlete that’s in there. So if there’s seven or eight athletes that happen to be in there and they’re seeing this man get taped up or getting treatment done or something worked on on his knee it’s bound to happen.
“It’s just flawed by design. It’s not them trying to be mean or anything like that, but there’s enough eyes in there and enough people in there that eventually some stuff like that’s going to happen. We were aware of that. And you know he’s walking around with a knee brace on and so and so sees it, they’re going to tell three people. We had enough time in between where I think it was about three weeks where I figured it was going to get out.”
It might not have been exactly three weeks before the odds moved, but move they did.
In the end, Ngannou defied those odds and unified the UFC heavyweight title by defeating Ciryl Gane via unanimous decision.
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