Amidst the already spectacular night of fights at UFC 268 early this month was a brief encounter between Francis Ngannou and Ciryl Gane. In the short clip that went around online, “The Predator” appeared to have snubbed his former training partner at the backstage area.
Gane himself was “surprised” at Ngannou’s lack of acknowledgment of his presence at the time. But according to the undisputed heavyweight champion, he would’ve said hello if there weren’t too many watchful eyes around.
“I feel like I didn’t want to say hi for my sake. It’s been a couple of years now that he’s out there picking on me,” Ngannou told Daniel Cormier on The DC Check-In (H/T MMA Fighting). “Yeah, I wanna be nice but I won’t go… when I saw him in that position, I had a few thoughts. I’m like, ‘OK, should I say hi?’
“And then I’m like, ‘I don’t know.’ I might go closer to say hi, and then somehow, you will hear that I said this, which is not what I said.
“Getting close to him was giving the opportunity for him, not only the fact that I’m sure he didn’t need me to say hi. But it was giving him an opportunity, maybe to say something, again, that I didn’t say. So I’d rather stay in the distance. It was good that the camera was there. They couldn’t say ‘Francis, say this!’
“If it’s just him, I would say hi, what’s up?”
Ngannou also believes that the entire encounter was fabricated by the UFC to build some more drama.
“That’s exactly what the UFC was waiting for. When you look at that video, they were waiting for me around the corner,” he said.
“It’s not like they wanted the story, the bad blood. They created that…”
To prove his point, Ngannou recounted that exact moment when a company representative was supposed to be ushering him and his manager, Marquel Martin, to their seats.
“What happened was there was this lady taking us to our seat, Marquel and I. She was bringing us to this section, and then they talked to her over the radio. Then, she was like, ‘Oh, sorry, I’m wrong.’ So she turned around and we get back… Tell me how that’s a coincidence!”
He also noticed the camera guy seemingly waiting for him to appear.
“By the time I come from the corner, the guy was ready with his camera. If you watch that video, he was, like, on me by the time I turned around the corner. And (he) just zoomed in on me like ‘Oh, he’s there. He’s coming.’ Like this movie scene.
“He was there waiting for (me). It’s not like you see somebody, and you’re like, ‘Oh, damn. Let me film this moment.’ No. Come on. His camera wasn’t just there, like ready to film something if ever something happened. No. He was waiting. He knew that I was coming.”
Ngannou and Gane will unify the heavyweight titles at UFC 270 on January 22.