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Francis Ngannou’s coach, Fernand Lopez, helping launch new MMA promotion in France and Africa

The MMA Factory coach, who trains Francis Ngannou and Cyril Gane, will play a large role in ARES FC—which will put on their first show in Dakar, Senegal on Dec. 14.

Arts Martial Festival
Fernand Lopez and Francis Ngannou training
Photo by Sebastien Muylaert/Icon Sport via Getty Images

One of the biggest stars in the UFC, Francis Ngannou, has strong connections to both France and Africa. As does his coach, Fernand Lopez, who – with the upcoming legalization of MMA in France – is looking to expose the sport to a larger audience in those regions. He is aiming to help produce the next crop of talent who could follow in the footsteps of Israel Adesanya, Kamaru Usman and Frances Ngannou to make a huge mark on the MMA world.

Lopez, head coach at the MMA Factory in France, will be the matchmaker and sport strategist for newly-formed promotion, ARES FC. Lopez says that his hope is that, through holding regular shows in these territories, it will pave the way for the world’s biggest promotions to bring their events further down the line. That way, both the talent pool and viewing audience in the countries can be cultivated to allow the sport’s growth to continue for years to come.

The promotion’s inaugural show, ARES FC 1, takes place on December 14th in Dakar, Senegal and will feature some notable names from across the globe. UFC veterans Ildemar Alcantara and Lukasz Sajewski will appear on the card. Recently released UFC vet Bryan Caraway was also originally scheduled to compete, however, Caraway has suffered an injury so TKO bantamweight champion, Taylor Lapilus, will replace him. The event will be broadcast live on CANAL+ and UFC Fight Pass in order to be easily accessible to fans in France and across Africa.

ARES FC will make their debut in Paris, France on March 21st—in a 5,000 seat venue. France recently passed legislation to legalize MMA in the country. Amateur and pro events will be able to be held legally, starting on January 1st 2020.

Current UFC fighters Veronica Macedo and Ciryl Gane are set to be commentators for the promotion.