Ahead of his January UFC heavyweight title unification clash with former teammate, Francis Ngannou — interim division champion, Ciryl Gane has claimed he is unsure why the Batie native appeared to blank him and his coach, Fernand Lopez, as well as middleweight contender, Nassourdine Imavov whilst walking through the corridors of Madison Square Garden.
Slated to headline UFC 270 in January from the Honda Center in Anaheim, California — Ngannou looks to successfully unify the heavyweight titles after the introduction of an interim crown back in August at UFC 265 — which Gane won via a one-sided third round ground strikes knockout win over common-foe, Derrick Lewis.
As a result, Gane will now challenge, brief former training partner, Ngannou in a heavyweight championship unification bout at the beginning of next year to kick off the promotion’s flagship schedule for the annum.
However, the pair were both pictured backstage at UFC 268 last weekend at Madison Square Garden in New York City — with Ngannou appearing to snub a potential interaction with the aforenoted trio of Lopez, Gane, and Imavov whilst passing them in a corridor.
Gane, who was present in the corner of Imavov for the 25-year-old Imavov’s impressive second round ground strikes knockout triumph against Edmen Shahbazyan explained that he was unsure as to why Ngannou appeared to blank him at UFC 268 backstage.
Ciryl Gane questions why Francis Ngannou snubbed Nassourdine Imavov especially
“Why? Just why? It was not necessary,” Ciryl Gane told MMA Junkie reporter, Farah Hannoun. “But it’s like that. Some people think differently than me. Some people are different. So for me, it was not necessary. But he did it. This is his [Francis Ngannou] story, so that’s it. …“
“I’m surprised because maybe he has something against me, maybe he has something against his former coach, Fernand Lopez, but Nassourdine Imavov?” Ciryl Gane questioned. “Nassourdine Imavov just finished his fight, and he won, and in MMA Factory, maybe Nassourdine Imavov was Francis’ biggest sparring partner. So, Fernand, Ok. Me, I’m the future opponent, Ok. But Nassourdine Imavov, it’s a little bit of a shame.“
Whilst a narrative regarding their past training sessions and history as teammates looms large in the background, Gane maintained that he is not out to exact revenge in January.
“At first, I was a little bit uncomfortable with that because too many people try to put me in the headlines like, ‘The guy with the revenge,’ but this is not my story,” Gane maintained. “Let me do my thing, and now I’m comfortable with that. When I started my career in the UFC, maybe my first three fights after every fight, the journalists talk about: ‘And Francis and Francis.’ You, stay focused on me please. I just arrived; I’m gonna do my thing. Francis was already in the top five, so this is the feeling.“