Morning Report: Francis Ngannou, Ciryl Gane get into heated debate over Ngannou’s sparring KO claim

    This Saturday, Francis Ngannou will defend his undisputed heavyweight title when he takes on interim champion Ciryl Gane in the main event of UFC 270. In the build up to the fight, much has been made about Ngannou and Gane’s short time together previously as training partners, with the UFC putting the rocky relationship between Ngannou Gane’s coach Fernand Lopez, who previously trained Ngannou, at the forefront. Despite this narrative though, both Ngannou and Gane have made concerted efforts to be respectful of one another, but as the fight nears, that’s is getting more and more difficult and yesterday things nearly boiled over.

    A few weeks ago, footage was leaked of a sparring session between Ngannou and Gane that appeared to show Gane getting the better of the heavyweight champion. Ngannou accused his former gym of the leak and suggested that it was “manipulated” to intentionally only show Gane looking good. Gane himself even admitted that the footage showed him in a favorable light and that Ngannou also had his good days in the gym but as the topic has continued to come up, earlier this week Ngannou took things one step further, saying that in one training session, he actually knocked Gane out. But at the pre-fight press conference Thursday, Gane refuted this and things got a little heated between the two heavyweights.

    Gane: “You’re a liar. I’m so sorry.”

    Ngannou: “He was knocked out, probably, because he doesn’t remember.”

    Gane: “This is not the truth. Honestly, you know me already. With Francis, we did some sparring – and it was really great sparring from Francis.

    Ngannou: “Definitely.

    Gane: “It was a beautiful left kick. The problem with Francis is he doesn’t like to spar technical sparring – you like to make power and I told you a little bit a few times before. You gave me the left kick. You hurt me. You see? I’m honest with you – you hurt me. You hurt me. But you didn’t knock me down. This was not a knockdown.”

    Ngannou: “You didn’t go down on the left high kick? Let’s be honest. And you say I don’t spar technical sparring – I’ll spar with one 155er, I’ll spar with girls, and they don’t complain. Obviously it was a good sparring, he was not lying about that, but you went down on that. I respect you and I know that out of everybody, you are the honest one, and I know you could have been real about that.”

    Gane: “You respect me? Brother, you don’t respect me in front of the people. You’re lying. I was sleeping after your left kick? Seriously. (Look) me in the eyes. Honestly.”

    Ngannou: “I don’t have the tape so I can’t prove that but that is somewhere on the tape.”

    Gane: “It’s not the truth. He hurt me, I told you. A beautiful left kick with too much power. But it really didn’t knock me down. Exactly what happened is he hurt me, I was really surprised about the power because I told him a few times before. So I say, ‘(makes questioning gesture then waves it off) No worries.’ I want to jump in again and the coach says ‘No guys, stop it. You’re gonna do something wrong.’ So that’s why we stopped it. This is the truth.”

    Ngannou: “Did you stop sparring that day?”

    Gane: “I didn’t continue because the coach didn’t want that. I was a little bit disappointed.”

    Ngannou: “Either way, that doesn’t really matter because that was accidentally. I didn’t mean to hurt him with a kick. It happened and the only reason we are here talking about that is the footage that you guys released, that forced me to talk about it. I never talked about it because it was an accident. I didn’t mean to hurt you. We were training and helping each other. So once again, I respect you, and I’m not lying. And Saturday, we’re gonna fight.”

    Ngannou is correct, whatever happened in the training room in the past won’t make much difference now. This Saturday, at the Honda Center in Anaheim, Calif., he and Gane will settle up with the title of “Baddest Man on the Planet” up for grabs.

    Interest. Francis Ngannou says he’s no longer interested in facing Jon Jones: ‘I’m done with that fight’.

    Of course. Dana White to Francis Ngannou: Forget about boxing, focus on Ciryl Gane at UFC 270.

    Emotions. Fernand Lopez: Regardless of split with Francis Ngannou, it will be a ‘mix of emotions’ watching him fight Ciryl Gane at UFC 270.

    Power. Francis Ngannou’s coach describes what it’s like to be hit with the champ’s ‘ungodly’ power.

    Delay. Nate Diaz calls for UFC to ‘quit slowing down the real fight game’ and book Dustin Poirier fight, Dana White responds.

    Between the Links with Brian Kelleher.

    Press Conference Staredowns.

    UFC 270 Press Conference.

    Embedded 4.

    Road to Bellator 273.

    Heavy Hands. Discussing the key fights at UFC 270.

    Fight ready.

    The mixed messaging of Henry Cejudo.


    Kevin Holland.

    Now there’s smoke between these two.

    Simple yet effective.

    Marlon Moraes has joined Tiger Muay Thai.


    Thanks for reading, enjoy the fights, and see y’all next week.

    If you find something you’d like to see in the Morning Report, hit up @JedKMeshew on Twitter and let him know about it. Also follow MMAFighting on Instagram and like us on Facebook.

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