Ciryl Gane was never Francis Ngannou’s friend.
One of the most highly-anticipated matchups takes place in the UFC 270 headliner on Saturday as Francis Ngannou collides with Ciryl Gane in a heavyweight title unification clash.
One of the big narratives going into the fight was the fact that they were former training partners at The MMA Factory gym in Paris, with some even claiming they were friends as well.
However, that’s news to Ngannou who doesn’t understand where these stories originated from.
“We just spent a few sessions in three weeks, which was maybe six sessions of training,” Ngannou said during UFC 270 media day (via MMA Fighting). “Definitely less than eight [training sessions]. That was back in January 2019. Because after I fought Curtis Blaydes in China, I went back to Cameroon, and on Christmas, I had the Cain Velasquez fight. So I couldn’t come back to Vegas on time to set up a training camp, because the fight was in Feb. 17, so I stopped in France to train there for one month, and at the time, Ciryl was there training for his fight in TKO, I believe.
“So he left before I left; I think it was three weeks before I left to go for his fight. Then after that, by the end I think it was Feb. 3, I flew to Phoenix. I was there for two weeks before the fight. That’s it. I don’t know where you guys came from with all this friendship [and] sparring partner. Other than what I explained to you, there’s nothing else. I do believe if you ask him those questions, he’s going to approve those answers. I think regardless, he’s honest.”
Francis Ngannou Reveals He Accidentally Knocked Out Ciryl Gane
Another talking point heading into the fight is the heated back-and-forth between Ngannou and his ex-coach — as well as Gane’s head coach — Fernand Lopez with sparring footage in particular.
For many, this fight was intriguing given that Ngannou and Gane had actually sparred before. However, Ngannou took issue with the footage that was out there as he claimed it was manipulated by Lopez to make Gane look good.
Lopez fired back by revealing that the footage didn’t tell the whole story and that Gane actually dropped Ngannou with a knee to the liver.
As far as Ngannou is concerned, there was a notable incident that did occur with Gane. And that included him accidentally knocking the Frenchman out with a high kick.
“Yes, I knocked him out [with] a left high kick,” Ngannou said. “There’s a lot of reasons why that footage didn’t come out. Well, let me say this, that knockout wasn’t a voluntary knockout. It wasn’t in sparring. It was an accident. I didn’t intend to knock him out. I didn’t go there to knock him out.
“So personally, it’s not something that I would be proud of and feel tough because I knocked my sparring partner out or knocked him down or whatever. Usually, that stuff happens in training, but it’s always an accident. Because we are committed to take care of our partner. That’s how it works.”
Until footage is released, we’ll never know for sure. But we will definitely get to see them throw down in a real fight on Saturday night.