Ultimate Fighting Championship heavyweight king Francis Ngannou did not mince words when explaining the falling out between him and former head coach Fernand Lopez. The same man that is now guiding the career of a future opponent in interim champion Ciryl Gane.
Ngannou (16-3) and Lopez worked together for the first five years of the Cameroonian giant's mixed martial arts career. In a recent interview with MMAFighting, the owner of the French powerhouse gym MMA Factory spoke in-depth about the various reasons for the divide between the two. Which included Ngannou's public handling of the blame in some of his losses. Now, the UFC heavyweight champion has responded to those comments in a new interview with GQ.
Francis Ngannou responds to Fernand Lopez's recent comments
"Fernand’s problem is that he wants to be famous. I can count how many times we had to argue about how he thought I was taking all the spotlight...Bro, what do you want? If you want the spotlight, you know where the spotlight is. It’s inside the octagon, not on the side," Ngannou said.
"And you chose to be on the side. I don’t know how to [make him famous]. If you want to be a coach, you have to stand where the coach stands and get what the coach gets. You can’t be a coach and get what the fighter gets. It has always been like that. He mentions how many followers I have on Instagram compared to him. I’m not worried about followers on Instagram—I wish I could throw some to you, but I can’t do that. This has always been a problem, basically."
Ngannou doesn't think his training past with Ciryl Gane will be key in their upcoming fight
At some point at the end of this year, or early in 2022, Ngannou and Gane will face off to unify their two heavyweight titles. And much has been made about how the pair were teammates previously, and those training sessions could be a major factor in how the fight plays out. However, the 34-year-old dispelled the idea in his conversation with GQ. Explaining that the amount of time the two shared at the MMA Factory was fairly minimal and much intel won't be gleaned from those training sessions two years ago.
"That’s something I’m very cool with. We trained for about one month back in January 2019, when I was going to fight Junior Dos Santos. Technically we don’t know each other that much," Ngannou said.
"The Predator" won the heavyweight championship on his second try in March at UFC 260. On that night, he handed two-time titleholder Stipe Miocic just the third knockout loss of his legendary 24 fight career.