Fernand Lopez knows Ciryl Gane will face his biggest challenge yet when he takes on Francis Ngannou.
That’s because Lopez is the man responsible for Ngannou’s rise, having trained him for years at MMA Factory Paris. As Ngannou rose to the top, a young Gane (10-0 MMA, 7-0 UFC) followed suit and now Lopez has two of his students battling for the top heavyweight spot in the headliner of UFC 270.
Although Ngannou (16-3 MMA, 11-2 UFC) parted ways with Lopez and MMA Factory Paris over three years ago, Lopez knows the kind of athlete that Ngannou is. There is no love lost between the two, and they had a less than amicable separation, but with Ngannou winning the heavyweight title in early 2021 and Gane winning the interim title at UFC 265, Lopez finds himself plotting against Ngannou.
“François is smart. Ciryl is a computer, ”Lopez told MMA Junkie. “François is very, very strong. Ciryl is as strong as a heavyweight.
Gane won the interim heavyweight title by finishing Derrick Lewis, the UFC record holder for most knockouts. As Gane prepares to face another devastating puncher, Lopez sees Ngannou as a far greater threat than Lewis.
“It’s certainly good preparation, but it doesn’t mean anything,” Lopez said of Gane’s victory over Lewis. “Francis Ngannou is a different animal, he moves faster – he’s pretty fast for this weight class. It is quite fast for this weight class. People underestimate how fast Francis can be. He is fast. Ciryl is faster, but Francis is quick. He’s pretty quick when he’s moving. He has decent footwork and he’s athletic. When Ciryl Gane fought Derrick Lewis, there were a few times that Derrick Lewis rushed in to try and cut him, to cut the angle.
“But because of his athleticism Ciryl Gane can run faster, he eventually escaped. If it was Francis, he would have closed the gap a little faster than that, so I think that’s what he should do – try to learn to close that gap a little faster. But then again you never know what will happen if you try to close that gap faster because if you go faster you can’t control and break. This means that if the direction changes, you fall. This is why this fight is quite intriguing.
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