UFC heavyweight champion Francis Ngannou’s former coach Fernand Lopez feels it is time for the pair to settle their differences and move forward.
As UFC 270 quickly approaches, Lopez, the head coach of MMA Factory in Paris who will be in the corner opposite Ngannou (16-3 MMA, 11-2 UFC) with interim champ Ciryl Gane (10-0 MMA, 7-0 UFC), has come to the realization that the bickering between him and his former pupil is no longer worth the trouble.
“I’m totally sick of it,” Lopez said in a recent interview with Submission Radio. “I’m tired. I can’t do that anymore. The problem is, being authentic is not easy to do. Whenever you’re authentic, you get in trouble at some point.
“I’m a father, I have two sons. You want me to tell you who is better than who? This gets me in trouble because the other son will say, ‘Oh you see, he’s trying to pin me down again, he’s trying to say (bad things) about me again.’ So, let it be.”
Backstage at UFC 268, a moment that went viral was captured on video, in which Ngannou dismissively walked past Gane, Lopez, and other members of the MMA Factory team without saying a word. Ngannou would clarify that his beef was not with Gane and others present, but with Lopez, fanning the flames of their past disagreements.
Despite their history and all of the words that have been exchanged through interviews about each other, Lopez would like to move forward and become cordial. “I don’t want to sound like the ex-wife who can’t let go because they split,” Lopez said.
“I’m really open to shaking his hand any time or talk with him any time, but I can’t work with him anymore,” Lopez continued. “It’s like you were working in a very complicated job, and you discovered how to work in a comfort zone, in the best comfort zone that you can have. So, yeah, I will not go back to work with Francis ever. But, I think as a gentleman, we should be able to say hello, how are you doing? That’s it, and be polite.
“We choose our friends, and you can be friends with this guy and not be friends with that guy. I don’t think we really can keep working or do any friendship. I think we just have to be polite to each other and be respectful.”
Gane and Ngannou will meet inside the octagon in the main event of UFC 270 on Jan. 22 to unify the UFC heavyweight title. After the dust settles, Lopez hopes everyone can move past their differences.