While former teammates Francis Ngannou and Ciryl Gane aren’t set to fight until Jan. 22, 2022, at UFC 270, “The Predator” has already found himself in a war of words with Gane’s coach (and Ngannou’s old mentor), Fernand Lopez.
Lopez has been stirring the pot regarding his former star student since Ngannou abandoned the MMA Factory following his one-sided loss to Stipe Miocic in 2018. But, things have really heated up since Gane won the interim Heavyweight title, setting him on a collision course with Ngannou. Since then, it’s been interview after interview from Lopez on what a bad gym member and teammate Francis was.
When Ngannou walked past Lopez, Gane and fellow former teammate Nassourdine Imavov at UFC 268, “The Predator” explained it was to avoid Lopez, because “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.”
Paranoid, much? Well not really given Lopez is meticulously watching everything Ngannou is up to, waiting for the chance to murder him on social media like this:
Yes, that’s Ngannou repeatedly calling Nassourdine Imavov, “Mansour Imanof.” Yes, it plays perfectly into Lopez’s claims that Ngannou was a selfish teammate while at the MMA Factory, where his other crimes allegedly include refusing to pay the $650 gym membership after making it to UFC, and telling the promotion Ciryl Gane wasn’t ready for the big leagues.
But, we’re still on the fence about this one, because the only person going out of their way to paint Ngannou with this brush (other than UFC President, Dana White, when contractual issues arise) is Lopez, who has ample reason to be upset with Francis after being blamed and replaced when “The Predator” lost his first title fight. Of course, Ngannou is an asshole in Lopez’s eyes! But, we’re still waiting for more opinions and examples from people who are a bit less emotionally involved before believing one thing or another.
We’ll still watch the warfare being waged in interviews and over the Internet with great interest, though. Ngannou vs. Gane will be a great fight. And Ngannou vs. Lopez is a big part of that.