Ciryl Gane reacts to Francis Ngannou’s sparring KO claim

Two giants do battle this weekend when Francis Ngannou defends his UFC heavyweight title against Ciryl Gane at UFC 270 in Anaheim, California.

This fight is an easy one to sell. Ngannou and Gane are two of the most gifted athletes to grace this division in the promotion’s history. Ngannou is the knockout artist while Gane is the technical wizard, belying his massive frame with rapid movement.

Then there is the personal narrative to consider. Ngannou and Gane were once sparring partners trained by the same coach, Fernand Lopez. The former fell out with Lopez around the time Gane came to prominence, although the dispute had nothing to do with the French fighter. All the same, he’s been naturally sucked into the drama.

Much has been made of the sparring sessions that took place between the two. Fans and analysts want to know details about them, hoping they’ll provide insight into how this fight could go. However, they may be listening to unreliable narrators.

First up, Ngannou. He spoke to the press ahead of the event.

Francis Ngannou’s knockout claim

The most-viewed footage relating to sparring sessions between Ngannou and Gane shows the latter landing a skilful combination. His opponent has no answer to the strikes, they’re too quick and well-hidden. Ngannou claims that Gane’s camp has isolated a flattering clip of their man to make him look better than he performed.

Ngannou first made this claim in the UFC 270 Countdown YouTube video. He said they didn’t include moments were Ngannou knocked Gane down. At the press conference, a reporter followed up with the Cameroonian, asking if he knocked Gane ‘down’ or knocked him ‘out’. Ngannou replied that he knocked him out.

He went on to clarify that it was an accidental KO. The alleged blow that put out Gane’s lights was a head kick. Ngannou said he wasn’t proud of the kick, that he would never brag about knocking out a sparring partner.

French MMA media caught up with Gane for his account of the spar.

YouTube video

Ciryl Gane gives his sparring account

Ciryl Gane had previously spoken about the tremendous power that Francis Ngannou possesses and how it surprised him during their first training sessions together.

However, he never mentioned getting knocked back, down or out.

Now, confronted with a question about whether Ngannou’s claim was truthful, Gane says conclusively that no such event happened.

The interviewer asked him if he heard what Ngannou said before asking if it was true. Gane replies firmly, “That’s completely false.” When asked why he believes Ngannou would make this up, he suggests that it’s a psychological tactic.

The pair continued arguing when they met in person for the UFC 270 press conference. Each pushing their own version of reality.