Francis Ngannou claimed he ‘knocked out’ Ciryl Gane in sparring but insists ‘it was an accident’.
The reigning heavyweight champion will defend his 265lb crown against his former training partner early on Sunday morning in the main event of UFC 270 in Los Angeles.
In the build up to the fight tensions have been high as Gane’s coach Fernand Lopez – who used to train Ngannou at MMA Factory in Paris – recently revealed the former dropped the latter in a training session with a knee to the body.
And now the 6ft 4in heavy hitter has added further fuel to the fire, claiming to have once accidentally KO’d his former teammate turned rival during sparring.
Speaking at the press conference, he said: “Yes, I knocked him out bad.
“It was a high kick, left high kick. That knockout wasn’t a voluntary knockout. It was in sparring.
“It was an accident. I didn’t intend to knock him out. I didn’t go there to knock him out.
“Personally, it’s not something that I feel proud of. I don’t walk around and feel all tough because I knocked my sparring partner out or down or whatever.
“Usually stuff like that happens in training, but it’s always an accident because we’re committed to taking care of our partner.”
However, the Cameroonian insisted they were never really friends in the first place, adding they barely spent any time together before he moved to Las Vegas to train with Eric Nicksick at Xtreme Couture.
Ngannou added: “We just spent a few sessions in three weeks. It was maybe six sessions of training, definitely less than eight.
“That was back in January 2019, because after I fought Curtis Blaydes in China, I went back to Cameroon and on Christmas I had the Cain Velasquez fight.
“So, I couldn’t come back to Vegas in time to set up a training camp because the fight was on February 17.
“I stopped in France and trained there for one month and at the time Ciryl was there training for his fight, I believe. So, he left even before I left. I think it was three weeks before I left to go for his fight.
“So after that, I think it was February 3, I flew to Phoenix, I was there two weeks before my fight, and that’s it.”