The two heavyweight champions (Ngannou the undisputed titleholder, Gane an interim champ) are set to fight Jan. 22 at Honda Center in Anaheim, Calif., a matchup that has been brewing for the better part of the past 12 months with Gane continuing his unbeaten romp through the UFC roster.
Gane is the jewel of France’s MMA Factory, the same gym that Ngannou trained at on his way to stardom. Earlier this year, Ngannou’s former team released footage (watch the clip from BT Sports above) of a past sparring session with Gane, and Ngannou claims that the clip was presented in such a way as to cast a more favorable light on Gane.
“When I saw that footage, my first reaction was laughing,” Ngannou said on his YouTube (h/t Bloody Elbow). “Because I know exactly what happened at those training sessions. But this is the thing. When they want to like, do some highlight, they always choose the part of the video that they use. And they have a lot of videos like that because, at the time, they were filming our training session to promote him, his fight, and everything. So, there was a lot of footage from those few training sessions. But a lot of them never came out and would never come out. And I know for a fact that they will never come out.
“It’s about [making] him look better and make me look bad, to prove that he’s the man. This is the thing, I really get intrigued by those stuff sometimes. And then how they just control people’s mind, conditioning them to think. And they just think like, suddenly they just shift from one way to other way of thinking. I’m like, ‘Wow, how easy is that to manipulate people,’ which they’re really good at, manipulation. But at the end of the day, as I said, we both know, everyone knows for a fact.”
According to Ngannou, the footage is from January 2019, a month ahead of when he was to fight Cain Velasquez in Phoenix. The Paris visit was a stop in between Cameroon and the United States. Ngannou estimates that he and Gane sparred somewhere between “six and eight times.”
Ngannou is aware of comments from former coach Fernand Lopez that have attempted to downplay his talents, and he has also seen other critics attempt to do the same to Gane. Even though he will soon be trading strikes with Gane, Ngannou doesn’t see any need to trash talk “Bon Gamin.”
“I’m like, man, he is nasty,” Ngannou said. “It’s not a fake game anymore. ... What I do know is what I [told myself] about Ciryl at that time, he’s good and he’s just gonna get better. He’s good, he’s talented. That’s for sure and that’s the reason why he’s there where he’s at right now.
“I’m just better. I’m just the man that’s gonna stop the hype and I can’t wait to get to this fight because what’s really funny about it is that everybody that talks about this fight hypes him up, all the predictions, they all know exactly what is going to [happen]. But I think they’re trying to play like, ‘Oh, let’s play with his mind. Let’s do this, let’s do that. Maybe we can affect him, maybe, blah blah blah.’ Well, anytime that we’re gonna get in that octagon, you’re gonna feel the energy and you’re gonna feel the difference.”
That said, Ngannou wanted to remind his old sparring partner that what Gane saw in the gym isn’t going to be anything like what he will see on fight night.
“Whatever they will say out there, Ciryl Gane knows who is Francis,” Ngannou said. “Just like playing around with him as you play with your little brother, he knows me from that. He hasn’t seen my in my beast mode. So he knows that something is coming and he wants to assure himself that ‘It’s easy, I can take this, I can do that,’ which is good. We all do. It’s gonna be a fun fight.”