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Morning Report: Francis Ngannou’s coach says Dana White was right about heavyweight’s ego issue

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Francis Ngannou
Francis Ngannou
ESTHER LIN/SHOWTIME

At the beginning of this year, Francis Ngannou was the hottest commodity in the heavyweight division. After delivering the Knockout of the Year for 2017 against Alistair Overeem, Ngannou was set to challenge Stipe Miocic for the UFC championship, and many were predicting a new era in the heavyweight division. Ngannou came up short that evening and in his most recent bout, turned in a dreadfully tepid performance against Derrick Lewis that have had fans cooling on him. UFC President Dana Whitem who was once quick to sing the praises of Ngannou, is now saying that “The Predator” let his “ego run away with him,” and even Ngannou’s own coach agrees.

In a recent interview with MMANewsPL (transcript via MMANytt), Ngannou’s long-time coach, Fernand Lopez, said that Dana White is correct and that Ngannou has been getting too big of an ego.

“The only thing I can say is Dana was speaking about Francis’ ego is probably one of the truths that I witnessed that Dana White said,” Lopez said. “It’s probably the only truth that I know for a fact, that’s a fact. Why am I saying that? I’m saying that because Ngannou is like a brother for me and when you’re dealing with a brother, problems with your brother, you have to be honest with your brother so he can be a better man.

“In order to make Francis a better man, there are some people that have to have the bad role. The bad job is to tell Ngannou ‘You have a big ego and you have changed with the time.’ That’s the truth. I had the conversation with Ngannou and I said to him ‘You have changed my friend, you have changed. You’re not the same anymore. Your ego is killing you and it’s just about your ego.’ That’s the thing like.”

Lopez was the man who introduced Ngannou to MMA, molding the young talent from pure raw potential into one of the most feared men on the planet. But Lopez said that after the Miocic fight, Ngannou could not admit his own fault and then worked with Syndicate MMA for his bout with Derrick Lewis, decisions that hurt both he and Ngannou.

“Myself I got hurt with a lot of dedication to Francis’ career, I got hurt, a lot,” Lopez said. “When Francis lost the fight with Stipe, no one ever heard Francis say he lost because he didn’t follow the game plan. He did the opposite of the game plan that we worked. That loss for Francis, for the belt, had a huge impact for him, but also myself and my gym. Francis being world champion means that I’m a champion coach and that means the MMA Factory is a champion training camp. We missed that because he did not follow the game plan. He followed the game plans until the title shot and then the next fight (against Lewis) he was in Syndicate MMA.”

Lopez and Ngannou both took a lot of flak after the Miocic loss as Ngannou looked wholly unprepared for the wrestling aspects of MMA. But Lopez says they did prepare extensively for Miocic’s wrestling but Ngannou failed to implement the game plan and then hung his coach out to dry afterwards.

“When all these people are saying what a bad coach I am, it would’ve been nice for Francis to back me up and say ‘No guys, this guy did his job, this guy tried to help me with the best gameplan that he could and he gave me the thing that I should do and I didn’t do that,” Lopez continued. “Instead of saying that he just stayed quiet and people were killing us saying how stupid could I be to just keep training Francis on the feet and not on the wrestling and not the ground game.”

“This is just crazy because the MMA Factory was building Francis a lot time ago and for this and the wrestling and the ground game was taking almost 80-percent of his training, but because whenever the television come in the gym we were showcasing everything on the pads because it looked good for TV. We didn’t show Francis struggling or sharing the thing that he’s working on, on the ground. We only just showed to everyone what he was good at so they didn’t see any weakness in Francis, but actually, we were working so hard. We were taking all the best ground game guys in France.”

At the end of the day, Lopez doesn’t want to put all the blame for his recent losses on Ngannou because fighting is a team endeavor, but Lopez does believe that Ngannou’s unwillingness to publicly own up to his own shortcomings is indicative of his ego getting in the way.

“We lost the fight as a team, as a team, we lost the fight,” Lopez continued. “There’s a fault of mine in losing the Stipe fight because it’s the team losing the fight. I don’t want to say only Francis lost that fight, but Francis didn’t follow the game plan and it was up to himself to say he didn’t follow the game plan.”


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FIGHT ANNOUNCEMENTS

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FINAL THOUGHTS

It’s been a while but we have another UFC fight weekend on deck plus another bare knuckle event! Keep it locked to MMA Fighting for all your coverage of both events and see y’all Monday.


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