Not long after the promotion booked the heavyweight title fight between reigning 265-pound champion Francis Ngannou and current interim titleholder Ciryl Gane, scheduled for UFC 270 on Jan. 22 in Anaheim, Calif., old footage leaked online of Ngannou and Gane sparring — with “The Predator” seemingly at a disadvantage against “Bon Gamin.”
But just like this controversial sparring video, Ngannou insists a highlight package was put together to help Gane appear to be the superior striker. Perhaps that’s a form of “manipulation” and “mind control” from Gane’s head coach and MMA Factory head Fernand Lopez, who had a public (and messy) break up with Ngannou in 2018.
“When I saw that footage, my first reaction was laughing. Because I know exactly what happened at those training sessions,” Ngannou said on his YouTube channel (transcribed by Bloody Elbow). “It’s about to make him look better and make me look bad, to prove that he’s the man. I really get intrigued by those stuff sometimes. And then how they just control people’s mind, conditioning them to think. And I’m like, ‘wow, how easy is it 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.”
The video was filmed to help promote an upcoming fight for Gane, who at the time was still competing for TKO Major League MMA in Canada. It also marks the second time a video was released over the last few months that painted “The Predator” in a negative light, likely the result of UFC President Dana White’s grudge against the power-punching Cameroonian.
“There was a lot of footage from those few training sessions. But a lot of them never came out and would never come out,” Ngannou continued. “And I know for a fact that they will never come out. Ciryl is pretty good and I knew that from day one. He’s good, he’s really good, and will just get better. He’s talented, that’s for sure. 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.”
Ngannou (16-3), who captured the crown from Stipe Miocic back in March, was expected to make his first title defense against longtime rival Derrick Lewis, but the promotion was unwilling to wait for “The Predator” and instead booked Lewis vs. Gane. “Bon Gamin” summarily disposed of the outclassed Lewis, part of a perfect 10-0 run that includes victories over top contenders like Jairzinho Rozenstruik and Alexander Volkov.
We’ll find out what tale the sparring footage truly told when Ngannou and Gane collide on Jan. 22 in Anaheim.