Francis Ngannou says he knocked out Ciryl Gane in training with a high kick: ‘It was an accident’

ANAHEIM, Calif. – While old sparring footage of Francis Ngannou trading strikes with his upcoming opponent recently surfaced, the UFC heavyweight champion revealed there is a reason why only a short clip is out there.

In the main event of UFC 270 on Saturday, Ngannou (16-3 MMA, 11-2 UFC) will face a former training partner in interim champ Ciryl Gane, with whom he trained in the past at MMA Factory in Paris. Ahead of their heavyweight title unification bout, a short clip of a sparring session with Gane (10-0 MMA, 7-0 UFC) began making the rounds in which it appeared Gane may have bested Ngannou.

“It wasn’t sparring footage. It was a clip of the sparring footage,” Ngannou explained Wednesday during the UFC 270 media day. “Because the footage doesn’t look that good.”

While he might regret stating it now, Ngannou said on the UFC 270 “Countdown” show that he knocked out Gane in one of their training sessions. “Yes, I knocked him out,” Ngannou replied when asked to clarify the statement. “(It was) a high kick, left high kick.

“That knockout wasn’t a voluntary knockout. It was in sparring. It was an accident. I didn’t intend to knock him out. I didn’t go there to knock him out. Personally, it’s not something that I feel proud of. I don’t walk around and feel all tough because I knocked my sparring partner out or down or whatever. Usually stuff like that happens in training, but it’s always an accident because we’re committed to taking care of our partner.”

Ngannou also went into detail to set the record straight about the history of training with Gane, correcting the belief that the pair have shared hours together on the mats.

“We just spent a few sessions in three weeks,” Ngannou said. “It was maybe six sessions of training, definitely less than eight. That was back in January 2019, because after I fought Curtis Blaydes in China, I went back to Cameroon and on Christmas I had the Cain Velasquez fight. So, I couldn’t come back to Vegas in time to set up a training camp because the fight was on February 17th.

“I stopped in France and trained there for one month and at the time Ciryl was there training for his fight, I believe. So, he left even before I left. I think it was three weeks before I left to go for his fight. So after that, I think it was February 3rd, I flew to Phoenix, I was there two weeks before my fight, and that’s it.”

Ngannou has since cut ties with his former training grounds in Paris, largely due to disagreements with head coach Fernand Lopez. The champ admits he does not like to think about the situation anymore and has done his best to not allow their past to affect his preparation. Ngannou also has an expiring contract situation with the UFC to deal with after Saturday’s main event, which makes for a number of outside distractions, but he knows everyone has their own personal issues to sort out before entering the cage.

“I do believe that many people deal with a lot of stuff before fights, whether it’s a contract, drama stuff, or some ex-girlfriend sh*t, or ex-wife, I don’t know, people deal with stuff,” Ngannou said. “You have to figure out your own sh*t and do what you have to do.”

As far as the fight on Saturday against Gane, Ngannou is confident he will recreate what happened in their sparring session. But this time, it will be no accident.

“My prediction is a knockout in two rounds,” Ngannou said firmly.

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