Francis Ngannou’s Ex-Coach Fernand Lopez Explains Why They Parted Ways

Francis Ngannou’s ex-coach Fernand Lopez has attempted to explain the numerous reasons why they are no longer on good terms as he prepares to help his pupil Ciryl Gane defeat the current heavyweight champion at UFC 270 in the new year.

According to Lopez he asked Ngannou to leave the MMA Factory gym, where he lived and trained, back in 2016 when ‘The Predator’ was just a few fights into his UFC deal and wanted his coach to waive his gym fees, which amounted to around 600 euros per year.

“Francis said to me…I’m the one bringing the light in the gym, I shall not pay any membership,” Lopez recalled on The MMA Hour show. “I said, ‘This is crazy. You must be crazy. You spent four years of your life in my gym. I never asked you for anything.”

“You pay me 10 percent,” Lopez continued. “On top of the 10, you ask me to pay the sparring partner with that money that you give me. On top of that, you’re saying that would be a shame to know that a big name like you is paying the membership. … So I said, ‘You know what? You don’t listen to me any more when I’m giving the class. You choose the easy way to train. Please, let’s just split. And we did.”

Ngannou left for Las Vegas, but still kept in touch with Lopez and sought his insights on business matters. However, despite the apparently cordial relationship he still had with his former camp, Lopez was left angered by what he claims was Ngannou actively trying to downplay the talents of his former teammate Gane when asked about him by UFC matchmaker Mick Maynard.

“Mick asked him if Ciryl Gane is good,” Lopez recalls Ngannou saying. “I said he’s a little bit good, but not good enough yet to go to the UFC. That’s coming from Francis Ngannou’s mouth. And he said that, for him, that was a strategy to not have Mick Maynard get suspicious of me and him being on the same page, which is not true.

“The only thing you can say about that is, you had the opportunity to drag a new guy coming from your gym into the UFC, and you took the liberty to say that the matchmaker that the guy could become a good guy, but for now, he’s not good enough. That’s what I’m fighting.”

Lopez says he was also left disappointed when Ngannou failed to credit his former gym and coaches when he did an acceptance speech after winning Knockout Of The Year at the MMA Awards in 2018.

“Your guy, he’s your coach, he’s from your country,” Lopez said. “He has been through everything hard – I’m not trying to get points, I don’t explain my life I don’t say how I got in France and how I managed to be who I am – but actually, there are tons of Cameroon people that have the same path as Francis, but you guys don’t know. For you guys, it’s like something tragic. It’s a hard story. But for us, it’s like a normal thing. And you have this guy, sitting with you. His business is to sell the gym, sell memberships. It makes sense for you to say, ‘Hey, thank you to my gym.’ It’s not wrong. I should not be ashamed to ask that. I should not even ask him that. It’s putting me in a very bad spot.”

Lopez also cited other examples of perceived wrongdoings and concluded by saying that if he was offered $100,000 to train Ngannou for 10 minutes or receive nothing to train Gane then he would choose the latter option.

The Octagon showdown between Ngannou and Gane takes place in the main event of UFC 270 on January 22nd in Anaheim, California.

Ross launched MMA Insight (previously in 2009 as a way to channel his passion for the sport of mixed martial arts. He's since penned countless news stories and live fight reports along with dozens of feature articles as the lead writer for the site, reaching millions of fans in the process.