MMA Factory head coach Fernand Lopez isn’t happy with his former protege, Francis Ngannou, calling him “evil and manipulative” after sparring footage with Ciryl Gane went viral.

Ngannou and Gane are set to square off for the unified UFC heavyweight title at UFC 270, the first pay-per-view of the new year. The two elite strikers were once teammates at MMA Factory before Ngannou was kicked from the gym after a falling out with Lopez.

The two sides have gone back-and-forth on their relationship at MMA Factory before Ngannou ultimately joined Xtreme Couture in Las Vegas. Both have accused the other of various misdoings. Lopez claims that Ngannou tried to stop the UFC from signing Ciryl Gane. ‘The Predator’ has since denied trying to stand in the way of Gane signing for MMA’s premier promotion.

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During an exclusive interview with LowKickMMA, Lopez responded to Ngannou’s recent comments on his YouTube page.

Fernand Lopez Explains How Francis Ngannou Talked Down On Ciryl Gane

“If Francis denied that he didn’t try to prevent the UFC from Ciryl, he’s a fucking liar,” Lopez said. “Francis Ngannou told me ‘coach… I had a meeting with Mick’. And he asked me, is it true that Ciryl is ready for the UFC? And I said to him, he’s a good young kid, he’ll be good one day. But I told him he’s not ready yet.’ If he says this isn’t true, then he’s a f**king liar.

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“I’m not surprised that he said that, because I don’t think Francis Ngannou ever thought that Ciryl was the kind of guy to face him one day,” Lopez added. “He basically pretended that Ciryl was irrelevant, always talked him down. That’s who he is, I’m giving you guys the reality. I took him from the street, helped him stay in the gym without paying any fee, gave him money and sponsors, and a place to sleep.

“And I’m evil? How am I evil when I’m the one who called Joe Silva when you were 4-1 and got you in the UFC? I told him he could become a champion. He’s full of s**t. Francis Ngannou is full of s**t and has a victim mentality.”

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The Lopez/Ngannou tensions have been a key component to the buildup ahead of UFC 270. While Ngannou and Gane don’t appear to have legitimate animosity for one another, it’s clear that he doesn’t care for his former coach.

The UFC heavyweight title fight will be the main focus of Fight Week, but the back-and-forth between Ngannou and Lopez will almost certainly be a topic of discussion for weeks to come.

What is your reaction to Fernand Lopez‘s comments?

Curtis Calhoun is a Combat Sports Contributor based in Seattle, Washington. After a longtime dream of becoming a sports journalist, he was able to accomplish his goals upon graduating from Washington State University in 2016.