ANAHEIM, Calif. – It appears Francis Ngannou and Ciryl Gane have a different interpretation of the word “teammate.”
The narrative heading into Saturday’s title unification bout between heavyweight champion Ngannou (16-3 MMA, 11-2 UFC) and interim champ Gane (10-0 MMA, 7-0 UFC) at UFC 270 is former teammates turned foes.
But according to Ngannou, a few sparring sessions with Gane at MMA Factory Paris doesn’t make him a former teammate.
“Rectification: It’s not a former teammate,” Ngannou said of Gane at Thursday’s pre-fight press conference.
“Just sorry my man, I was not your former teammate?” Gane responded.
Both men started their MMA careers under the tutelage of head coach Fernand Lopez at MMA Factory Paris, but when Gane came into the picture, Ngannou already was splitting time between Paris and Las Vegas before eventually departing the gym for good.
“How long we trained together, Ciryl?” Ngannou said.
“All right, we don’t talk about how long, but we sparred together because we were from exactly the same team,” Gane said in response.
“How long we trained together? I was based in the U.S. already,” Ngannou said.
Gane admitted that there may not have been a relationship between him and Ngannou, but he took issue with Ngannou not acknowledging that he was part of the same team.
“No, we were not friends, that’s true, but we were former teammates,” Gane said.
“How long did we train together?” Ngannou responded.
“You did maybe two camps or three maybe,” Gane said.
Ngannou thinks the few training sessions he had with Gane aren’t enough to classify him as a former training partner since he wasn’t spending his entire time in Paris.
“Two camps? Remember very well, January 2019 when you have to fight in Canada and I was coming from Cameroon, going to Phoenix to fight Cain Velasquez, we trained about three months,” Ngannou said. “We had about six sessions of training, and I wasn’t in the gym anymore. I was here in Vegas. I was just coming there. Am I right or am I wrong?”
“That’s right, but for me when you train at the same gym with a guy (you’re teammates),” Gane responded.
“OK, so we have to redefine the meaning of teammate,” Ngannou said.
To cap things off, Ngannou went on to say he’s not denying his time at MMA Factory, he’s just explaining that he didn’t spend as much time training with Gane as most seem to think.
“Yes, that was back in 2019 that we trained together and you can ask him. I moved to Vegas back in 2017,” Ngannou said. “April 2017, I officially moved to Vegas. So I just went back to France, stopping by for a month, then we trained together. But I still came back to Vegas.
“Of course I do recall it, but I wasn’t (full time) in MMA Factory, that’s what I mean. As now I’m not in MMA Factory. Do you get that?”