Francis Ngannou has explained his backstage encounter with former teammate partner Ciryl Gane and believes it was kinda set up by UFC officials.
Two of the baddest men on the planet crossed paths backstage at UFC 268. Francis Ngannou and Ciryl Gane. From what was seen on camera, Ngannou had no love for his former teammate or his former coach Fernand Lopez. Ngannou walked idly by, ignoring team Gane completely.
While they are set to fight at UFC 270 in January, Gane was left in shock that he wasn’t greeted by Ngannou. So were many fans, which left the video to go viral over night. Many people expected Francis to be friendly around his former team but he showed no emotion towards them.
However, not everything is how it seems.
The UFC Heavyweight Champion would stop by ‘The DC Check-In‘ to explain his side of the story.
“The only thing that bothers me a little bit (was Gane)… and he was right,” Ngannou said. “I would’ve looked confused. Obviously, as his coach said, he’s naive. I would’ve been confused, too, because if… I walked by Gane, I would say hi. If it’s just him, I’d say, ‘Hi, what’s up?’”
The problem wasn’t so much his future foe, Gane. For ‘The Predator’, it was his old coach Fernand Lopez.
The two would split up back in 2019. Since then, Ngannou would move to Las Vegas to train at Xtreme Couture before picking up his first world title. Lopez would put his stock into Gane, who won the interim heavyweight championship last August.
Ever since the coach and the fighter went their separate ways, the once good relationship between the two is nowhere to be found. It would be evident backstage at Madison Square Garden.
“I felt like I didn’t want to say hi, for my sake,” Ngannou said. “It’s been a couple of years now that he’s out there… I mean, like, yeah, I want to be nice. But when I saw him in that position, I had a few thoughts. I’m like, ‘OK, should I say hi?’ Then I’m like, ‘I don’t know.’ I might got closer and say hi and then somehow, you’ll hear that I said ‘this,’ which is not what I said.
“Getting close to him was giving an opportunity for him. Not only the fact that I’m sure that he didn’t need me to say hi, but it was giving him the opportunity to say something again that I didn’t say. I’d rather stay in the distance. It’s not like we’re friendly. He’s attacking me all the time. I can’t do that. I don’t feel like it.”
Avoiding An Awkward Situation
The baddest man on the planet has no problem knocking people out. But, Ngannou is human like the rest of us. And being human, well, nobody wants to be put into an awkward conversation. It’s just human nature. ‘The Predator’ would have no trouble chatting it up with Ciryl or even his teammate Nassourdine Imavov. But his former coach? Ngannou doesn’t think so.
“When I faced, I saw them,” Ngannou continued. “I’m like, ‘OK.’ When I thought that, I moved my eyes, so I didn’t even see (Imavov), who fought that night. I don’t have any problem with (Imavov). I don’t have any problem with Ciryl, but I know the guy next to them and it’s going to be awkward.
“If I say hi to them without saying hi to Fernand and then (responding), I think that might cause them a problem as well. It just was a very confusing situation. How do you do here? What can you do here to get out of here.”
Nagnnou wonders if UFC is behind this setup.
“That’s exactly what the UFC was waiting for. When you look at that video, they were waiting for me around the corner,” Ngannou said on DC’s YouTube channel. “It’s not like they wanted the story, the bad blood, they created that [scene]. There was this lady taking us to our seat. And she was bringing us to this section, and then they talked to her over the radio. And then (she said), ‘Oh, sorry, I’m wrong.’ So she turned around and we get back (and Gane and Lopez are standing right there). I mean, tell me how this can be a coincidence.
“And when you look by the time I come from around the corner, the guy was ready with his camera. Like, if you watch that video, he was on me by the time I turned around the corner and just zoomed in on me like, ‘Oh, he’s there, He’s coming’ (makes music sound) Like this movie scene. He was there waiting for me. It’s not like you see somebody and you’re like, ‘Oh, [it’s] them, let me film.’ Like, come on. His camera wasn’t just there ready to film something if ever something happened. No, he’s waiting.”
What are your thoughts on Francis Ngannou’s point-of-view on all of this?