UFC heavyweight champion Francis Ngannou has dropped a bombshell just a few days before his title showdown with former training partner Ciryl Gane by claiming that he accidentally KO’d him in sparring years ago.
The revelation came after Ngannou sought to play down footage of Gane appearing to be doing well against him in another sparring session, which had prompted a response from his rival’s coach Fernando Lopez, who had claimed that particular spar ended with Gane momentarily dropping him with a knee to the body.
Ngannou has now countered that by revealing how he switched Gane’s lights out on another occasion.
“Yes, I knocked him out [with] a left high kick,” Ngannou said. “There’s a lot of reasons why that footage didn’t come out. Well, let me say this, that knockout wasn’t a voluntary knockout. It wasn’t in sparring. It was an accident. I didn’t intend to knock him out. I didn’t go there to knock him out.
“So personally, it’s not something that I would be proud of and feel tough because I knocked my sparring partner out or knocked him down or whatever. Usually, that stuff happens in training, but it’s always an accident. Because we are committed to take care of our partner. That’s how it works.”
Despite both fighters claims suggesting that there’s a lot of history between the two in the gym, Ngannou actually tried to downplay the significance of their time together by suggesting that there was actually only ever a few days that they trained together.
“We just spent a few sessions in three weeks, which was maybe six sessions of training,” Ngannou told reporters ahead of Saturday night’s event. “Definitely less than eight [training sessions]. That was back in January 2019. Because after I fought Curtis Blaydes in China, I went back to Cameroon, and on Christmas, I had the Cain Velasquez fight. So I couldn’t come back to Vegas on time to set up a training camp, because the fight was in Feb. 17, so I stopped in France to train there for one month, and at the time, Ciryl was there training for his fight in TKO, I believe.
“So he left before I left; I think it was three weeks before I left to go for his fight. Then after that, by the end I think it was Feb. 3, I flew to Phoenix. I was there for two weeks before the fight. That’s it. I don’t know where you guys came from with all this friendship [and] sparring partner. Other than what I explained to you, there’s nothing else. I do believe if you ask him those questions, he’s going to approve those answers. I think regardless, he’s honest.”