Undisputed UFC heavyweight champion Francis Ngannou has claimed footage released from his past training sessions with interim champ Ciryl Gane was manipulated. But his former head coach is curious to know what exactly was altered or changed.
“I rolled my eyes, because it makes no sense,” MMA Factory leader Fernand Lopez said in an interview with MMA Fighting. “Let’s put it this way...let’s take the worst-case scenario – the UFC did manipulate the footage. Is it the wrong footage? Why are you concerned about that footage anyway? It’s the f*cking footage. You are not [wearing] the four-ounce gloves. You are not trying to knock Ciryl Gane down.
“We all know, I recognize his power. Ciryl Gane recognizes his power. The whole world recognizes his power. They can see in the video that Francis didn’t use the full power to knock Ciryl Gane down. Right? So where is the manipulation?”
In the lead up Ngannou’s title unifier against Gane in UFC 270‘s main event, the reigning heavyweight champ said a highlight video of their previous work together made Gane look better in order to sell the interim champ’s chances in the fight. Ngannou added that he knows “exactly what happened at those training sessions.”
Lopez, however, would love to know what his former fighter is actually referencing. On the sparring session in question, he isn’t quite sure what Ngannou believes was altered. He said the reality of what actually happened was worse than the footage released.
Lopez also acknowledged the outcome was just one training session, and one fighter getting the better of another on any given day is just part of the sport, which is why he was so befuddled by Ngannou’s issue.
“What you want to say is that there’s some part of the video that Ciryl was in danger? OK, then speak,” Lopez said. “Come out and speak. You want me to tell you the truth? I have the full video of this thing. I didn’t want to do that cause the fighters trust me, and ESPN at some point asked for the video so they can show that video. That’s it. When you have a chance to talk to Francis Ngannou ask him this — did you, yes or no, bend the knee on that video?
“You want me to tell you the truth on the video? The video ends up with Francis Ngannou sitting down in the corner of the gym because he [ate] the knee of Ciryl Gane in the liver. Knee on the body. He sat down. He was f*cking exhausted, tired, took the knee, [sat] down. Ciryl went to him, ‘Brother come up, let’s go, let’s keep going, let’s keep training.’ That’s what happened at the end of the video. If you think that there’s something special that you did in the video, please come on, talk.”
Lopez takes issue with Ngannou’s statement mostly because he was right there when this particular sparring session happened. But more than anything, he knows that training footage from nearly three years ago will have no actual bearing on the outcome in the fight against Gane.
“I will show the video,” he said. “You just ate a f*cking knee of the kid who was in the gym like a couple of months. You ate the knee in the liver and sat down. You’re out there saying, ‘He knows.’ What the f*ck does he know? What the f*ck are you talking about? He knows what? Come up. Speak up. What are you talking about? Again, training is bullsh*t. Francis is a killer. Francis will knock everyone out. He’s knocking people out, no doubt. I’m the first to say that. I’m the first to admit that.
“Francis, he’s the maximum of power that you can have in your hands. But again, that’s not a fight. The fight is not only about one punch. We have been facing people saying, ‘I just need one,’ and we know the result. It’s not about just saying, ‘I need one,’ cause to bring Stipe Miocic down, he needed more than one. I mean clean shot, he gives to Stipe, probably eight clean shots and Stipe didn’t go down. He eventually put Stipe down after probably 10 shots. So we know that Francis is a killer, but please stop with the conspiracist mindset.”
While he’s preparing Gane to beat Ngannou on Jan. 22, Lopez promises there’s no underlying mental warfare at work when it comes to the training footage that’s suddenly become the center of attention. He doesn’t understand why Ngannou appears to be concerned with the notion that everybody is against him, from his former head coach to the UFC as a promotion.
“There’s no one setting up, trying to make you look bad,” Lopez said of Ngannou. “There’s no one manipulating the video. This is your video. If this is not you, speak up, ‘Oh this is not me,’ or, ‘You know what, this speed, that was not me, that wasn’t me going at this speed,’ or say, ‘You know what, at some point, I took him down. At some point I don’t know, I just knocked him down.’ Did you? No. So what the f*ck are you talking about.
“I’m kind of surprised. I don’t really know where he’s going. People are like, ‘There’s news coming up, Francis said he got manipulated.’ On what? What are you saying? I mean how did they manipulate you? Is it your tape? Yes. Is it the real speed? Yes. Is it you moving? Yes. Oh the [way it was edited], the part where you was putting Ciryl in danger? OK, can you speak up? What was that? Did you shove him? Did you submit him? Did you knock him out? What the f*ck are you talking about? I don’t know. I’m not sure to understand where he’s going exactly.”
Outside of the fight itself, Ngannou has also been at a standstill with the UFC for several months as he nears the end of his current contract with the promotion. With only one fight remaining on his deal, Ngannou is preparing to face Gane with an uncertain future ahead of him as he continues to work toward some sort of resolution with the UFC.
That has resulted in a public war of words that has now escalated to include UFC president Dana White and Ngannou’s manager Marquel Martin from Creative Artists Agency. The end result is Ngannou still remains at odds with the UFC and that’s what Lopez believes is ultimately fueling his paranoia.
“We are witnessing [this] a couple of times, Francis Ngannou going on [saying], ‘The UFC don’t like me, they want to do this to me, they are doing this. The MMA Factory, they are doing this to me.’ Stop with that,” Lopez said. “How many champions do you have there [in the UFC]? They are not complaining with Kamaru Usman, he’s good with the UFC. I mean it’s good for the negotiation. Ali [Abdelaziz] is one of the best, if not the best in the UFC as a manager – he’s not fighting with Dana White. Israel Adesanya is not fighting with Dana White. Khabib [Nurmagomedov] is not fighting with Dana White.
“I mean they have the negotiation, but they finally come out with something good. I mean even Conor [McGregor] will say, ‘I need shares or stock options in the UFC’ and Dana will say, ‘No, are you crazy? No way. I will just give you the place so you can put your whiskey, Proper whatever, in the cage,’ and then they have a deal. There’s not just, ‘They want to kill me, they don’t want me to be brilliant.’ What the f*ck are you talking about? I don’t really get it.”