Francis Ngannou snubbed Ciryl Gane at UFC 268 to avoid giving fake news opportunities to his coach

francis ngannou
Credit: UFC Europe Twitter

Francis Ngannou snubbing former teammate, and upcoming opponent, Ciryl Gane backstage at UFC 268 was a decision based completely on bad blood between “The Predator” and the interim champion’s coach Fernand Lopez.

Before Lopez helped guide Gane (10-0) to UFC heavyweight prominence, he was the mastermind behind Ngannou’s (16-3) ascent into becoming a feared smashing machine. However, despite the pair helping each other to become recognized brands in the industry, the relationship between the eventual heavyweight king and the MMA Factory leader devolved.

Both men have spoken publicly about the fallout from their perspectives. However, the respected coach has been more vocal on the topic as he’s done many interviews explaining his side of the story. And most recently explained to MMAFighting this month the crux of the divide between the once successful fighter and coach combo was based around Ngannou’s decision no longer pay gym dues after his stardom put the facility on the map.

Francis Ngannou explains his perspective in infamous UFC 268 snub of Ciryl Gane

It’s an ugly situation that Ngannou claims is the reason he decided to ignore Lopez and Gane when they crossed paths backstage in New York earlier this month. The Cameroonian powerhouse alleges concern that a simple hello amidst bad blood could be altered by Lopez once again.

“I feel like I didn’t want to say hi for my sake. It’s been a couple of years now that he’s been out there [saying things about] me. Yea, I want to be nice, I want to go [and say hello]. When I saw him in that position, I have a few thoughts. I’m like, ‘should I say hi?’ And I’m like, ‘I don’t know.’ I might go closer and say hi, and somehow you will hear that I said [something different], which is not what I said,” Ngannou told Daniel Cormier on his DC Check-In podcast.

“Getting close was giving the opportunity for him to again say something I didn’t say. I rather stay at a distance, so it was good that the camera was there. They couldn’t say, ‘Francis said this.’ That’s what was for my sake. It’s not like we’re friendly. He’s attacking me all the time. I can’t do that. I don’t feel it.”

Ngannou’s snub heard around the MMA world was a moment that garnered a great deal of sympathy for Gane and Nassourdine Imavov. The man Lopez and the interim titlist were in Madison Square Garden to corner for his victory against Edmen Shahbazyan. It was the only regrettable part of that moment for Ngannou because he freely admits he has no quarrel with either man. He just chose to avoid what could have become a very awkward scenario with his former mentor.

“The only thing that bothers me a little bit is [Gane’s reaction]. And he was right, I would have been confused too,” said Ngannou. “If I walked by Gane I would have said hi. If it was just him I would say hi and what’s up. When I faced and saw them, I moved my eyes [in a different direction]. I don’t have any problem with Nassourdine, I don’t have any problem with Ciryl, but I know the guy next to them, and it’s gonna be awkward. If I say hi to them without saying hi to Fernand I think that might cause a problem as well. This was a very confusing situation.

Ngannou and Gane will get to settle any issues the event may have caused in January at UFC 270. On that night, they will decide once and for all who the “baddest man” on the planet truly is in a heavyweight title unification bout on pay-per-view.

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