Ahead of their upcoming UFC 270 heavyweight title unification clash at the turn of next year, division champions, Francis Ngannou and the interim gold holder, Ciryl Gane had somewhat of an awkward run-in backstage at UFC 268 tonight.
Division kingpin, Ngannou, is scheduled to headline UFC 270 in January against brief former training partner, Gane in a heavyweight title unification bout — after the introduction of a hugely-controversial interim title back in August.
Undefeated in his last five consecutive outings, Batie bruiser, Ngannou managed to snatch the undisputed heavyweight title back at UFC 260 in March of this year — stopping two-time foe and two-time champion, Stipe Miocic with a thunderous second round knockout.
In the time since, Ngannou was forced to remove himself from a planned heavyweight title rematch with Derrick Lewis due to scheduling conflicts, while a suggested pairing with former two-time light heavyweight best, Jon Jones fell to the wayside, ultimately.
As a result, the UFC introduced an interim title to the heavyweight fold — with the aforenoted, Gane handing common-foe, Lewis a one-sided third round knockout loss in the main event of UFC 265 in August to set up a title unification bout with his brief former training partner, Ngannou in January coming.
Whilst much has been made of Ngannou and Gane’s past relationship, particularly as training partners, it’s paramount to note that the pair of heavyweight forces briefly trained together, under the tutelage of the mastermind head coach, Fernand Lopez in Paris, France at the MMA Factory prior to Ngannou’s move to Xtreme Couture in Las Vegas under the guidance of Erik Nicksick.
With the pair in attendance tonight at UFC 268 at Madison Square Garden in New York City, footage emerged across Twitter detailing a quite awkward run-in between the two with Ngannou making his way through the backstage corridor — passing Gane and the aforenoted, Lopez — with the latter watching on suggesting Ngannou has spotted them, but elected against interacting.