Fernand Lopez has revealed that he warned Ciryl Gane not to target Francis Ngannou’s knees at UFC 270.
Speaking to Ariel Helwani on The MMA Hour, Gane’s head coach, Fernand Lopez, recalled how he felt Ngannou's knee pads and the leaked injury information were a trap. Lopez asserted that he didn’t know anything about Ngannou’s knee injury.
He revealed that Ciryl Gane’s brother, David, sent him a screenshot before the fight and noted that Ngannou was rumored to be dealing with a knee injury. Additionally, highlighting his conversation with 'Bon Gamin' before the fight, Lopez stated:
“When Francis get inside the octagon, and I saw the two knee wrappers, I called Ciryl to come close to me. And I said to Ciryl, ‘Don’t fall to the bait. Don’t go there for the low kick. He will counter you. And don’t believe that Francis is hurt. Don’t go there. Don’t kick him, or low kick; he will counter you.' That’s what I said to him.”
Furthermore, Lopez suggested that he isn’t questioning the legitimacy of Ngannou’s injury right now, adding that he doubted it only before and during the fight. Lopez disclosed that the gameplan was to use Taekwondo kicks to keep Ngannou at bay. He continued:
“On my point of view, the way that the information of Francis getting hurt was leaked just few hours before the fight, I thought that was a bait. One hundred percent. And I told that to Ciryl, ‘Don’t go kick a blank low kick. You will get knocked out by Francis. Don’t kick down. Stay on the kick that we’re using.’”
Watch Fernand Lopez’s conversation with Ariel Helwani in the video below:
Eric Nicksick on how Francis Ngannou injured his knee
Nicksick noted that Francis Ngannou was sparring from the southpaw stance and out-striking another big heavyweight. The other fighter was getting anxious and resultantly shot an extremely low single leg on Ngannou. He said:
"It was really low and went on to Francis' lead leg which was his right leg being southpaw and with the shin pads and knee pads on, the knee kind of buckled."
UFC heavyweight champion Ngannou defeated interim UFC heavyweight champion Gane via unanimous decision at UFC 270 on January 22nd. ‘The Predator’ currently holds the undisputed UFC heavyweight title. Nevertheless, it’s unclear as to whether Francis Ngannou will sign a new contract with the UFC or leave the promotion after his current contract expires in December 2022.