Ngannou: I accidentally knocked out Gane with kick in sparring
Francis Ngannou responded to recently released footage of him sparring with Ciryl Gane by telling his side of the story Wednesday.
The UFC heavyweight champion said during media day that he accidentally knocked out his UFC 270 opponent with a kick after previously claiming that the footage didn't tell the whole story.
"Yes, I knock(ed) him out. A left high kick," said Ngannou, according to MMA Fighting.
"There's a lot of reasons why that footage didn't come out," he added. "Let me say this: 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 will be proud of."
Ngannou left MMA Factory, where Gane still trains, shortly after his title-fight loss to Stipe Miocic in 2018 amid a strained relationship with former coach Fernand Lopez.
He joined Xtreme Couture full-time in Las Vegas and earned four first-round knockout victories before winning a rematch with Miocic in March 2021 to claim gold.
Ngannou accused his old gym of manipulating sparring footage of Gane seemingly getting the better of him to make Lopez's new star pupil look good.
Lopez and Ngannou have traded barbs in the months leading up to the UFC's first pay-per-view of the year. Lopez accused Ngannou of having an ego problem, while Ngannou said his ex-coach was too hungry for fame.
Meanwhile, Gane - who captured the interim title in August - has avoided criticizing his former teammate and recently downplayed their years-old sparring bout.
"For me, it was a good part of my sparring," he said on "The MMA Hour" in early January. "Sometimes, it was more balanced. Sometimes, it was better for him. Sometimes, it was better for - like every sparring you do with a sparring partner - this is a good part of myself. Not too much, but it was good."