Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Heavyweight champion, Francis Ngannou, and interim Heavyweight champion, Ciryl Gane, are set to unify the titles on Jan. 22, 2021, at UFC 270. As if the stakes weren’t high enough with the belt on the line, there’s also other factors at play. Francis Ngannou has one more fight on his contact, and a win would obviously put him in a very different position to negotiate than a loss.
Then there’s the coach element — both Ngannou and Gane were coached by MMA Factory’s Fernand Lopez, but after Ngannou’s bad loss to Stipe Miocic in 2018, “The Predator” walked away from his old team. Bad blood brewed after Lopez felt like Ngannou threw him under the bus for the loss. And now it feels like Gane is being put in a position to avenge his coach’s honor when this French civil war goes down.
For his part, Gane has always seemed pretty respectful when it comes to talking about Ngannou and their time together. But, at UFC 268 we saw that things are definitely not cool between the two — and really, how could they be with the way UFC threw an interim belt at “Bon Gamin” less than a year after “The Predator” won the title.
Backstage cameras caught a moment where Ngannou — who was in attendance to give support to fellow African champion Kamaru Usman — crossed paths with Gane and Lopez, who were there to corner their fighter Nassourdine Imavov. Take a look at the cold shoulder thrown by Francis in the hallway... and Gane’s reaction:
Gane’s teammates and coach laugh off the moment, but Gane himself ... I dunno, does he not look upset about the situation? Here’s a guy who’s given all due respect to his former teammate and refrained from doing anything but accepting what UFC offers him, and Ngannou refuses to even acknowledge him.
It’s understandable enough, but if you’re the one getting snubbed ....
Still, this is combat sports. These two heavyweights are just over two months away from being locked in a cage together for five rounds. We’re sure they’ll sort out their differences in there, one way or another.
For complete UFC 268 results and coverage click here.