Francis Ngannou‘s former coach Fernand Lopez has branded the UFC Heavyweight Champion a “fucking liar” for denying that he attempted to sabotage Ciryl Gane’s UFC signing.
The build-up to the upcoming UFC 270 main event, which will see a blockbuster unification bout between the promotion’s elite at heavyweight, has been littered with narratives.
To go along with the intriguing clash of styles, which will see the world’s biggest power-puncher look to shut the lights out on the leader of a new breed of technical heavyweights, is the ongoing uncertainty surrounding Ngannou’s future. A defeat on January 22 could well see him leave the promotion, a scenario that is mind-boggling considering the Cameroonian’s status as one of the top UFC titleholders.
But behind that lies a bitter story of a former pupil-coach relationship turned sour, which will now see two former teammates collide in the Octagon, one flying the MMA Factory flag.
Lopez Thinks Ngannou Has A “Victim Mentality”
Having brought Ngannou off the streets of Paris and into his MMA Factory gym, it’s perhaps surprising to see the state of Fernand Lopez’s relationship with “The Predator” in 2022.
After the heavyweight behemoth sought a permanent move to the United Status, the Xtreme Couture gym became his new stomping ground following his 2018 loss to Stipe Miocic. In the period since, both Ngannou and his former mentor have traded jabs in interviews, something that increased tremendously last year following an awkward backstage snub at UFC 268.
Following that, Lopez explained why the relationship deteriorated. Amongst other things, the French coach accused Ngannou of refusing to pay a gym membership, crediting him or the gym for his success, and of attempting to sabotage teammate Gane’s rise by advising matchmaker Mick Maynard not to sign him to the UFC.
Denying the accusation of sabotage, Ngannou recently described his ex-coach as “evil” for attempting to destroy his reputation. As the game of tennis continues, Lopez has now responded. During an interview with LowKick MMA, the 43-year-old slammed his former student, suggesting he is “full of shit” and has a “victim mentality.”
“If Francis denied that he didn’t try to prevent the UFC from Ciryl, he’s a fucking liar,” Lopez said. “Francis Ngannou told me, ‘Coach… I had a meeting with Mick. And he asked me, is it true that Ciryl is ready for the UFC? And I said to him, he’s a good young kid, he’ll be good one day. But I told him he’s not ready yet.’ If he says this isn’t true, then he’s a fucking liar.
“I’m not surprised that he said that, because I don’t think Francis Ngannou ever thought that Ciryl was the kind of guy to face him one day. He basically pretended that Ciryl was irrelevant, always talked him down. That’s who he is, I’m giving you guys the reality. I took him from the street, helped him stay in the gym without paying any fee, gave him money and sponsors, and a place to sleep. And I’m evil?” Lopez added. How I be evil when I’m the one who called Joe Silva when you were 4-1, and got you in the UFC? I told him he could become a champion. He’s full of shit. Francis Ngannou is full of shit and has a victim mentality.” (h/t LowKick MMA)
With so many stories at play as we race towards the opening pay-per-view of 2022, the headliner is certainly shaping up to be a thriller. It’s already been described as the “most compelling” heavyweight contest of all time by Chael Sonnen.
But when the cage door closes, rivalries beyond the Octagon and contractual disputes will be left on the outside, and bombs will be thrown on the inside. You’d be hard-pressed to find a fan not brimming with excitement ahead of this one.
Who do you think will leave the Octagon as the undisputed champion at UFC 270, Ciryl Gane or Francis Ngannou?
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