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Ciryl Gane surprised at Francis Ngannou’s backstage snub at UFC 268, ‘it was not necessary’

The heavyweight rivals were part of a viral moment last weekend.

Francis Ngannou and Ciryl Gane are expected to unify the UFC heavyweight title at UFC 270 on January 22. Ngannou won the belt from Stipe Miocic early this year. Gane was awarded an interim title for beating Derrick Lewis in the summer.

Both men were in attendance at last week’s UFC 268, which was held inside New York’s Madison Square Garden. Ngannou was a VIP. Gane was cornering his MMA Factory teammate Nassourdine Imavov.

After Imavov defeated Edmen Shahbazyan, cameras caught Ngannou strolling past Imavov, Gane and their coach Fernand Lopez backstage. Ngannou did not seem to acknowledge his former team—at all—as he passed them. See for yourself below:

Gane recently spoke to MMA Junkie about the snub from his former training partner.

“Why? Just why? It was not necessary,” he said. “But it’s like that. Some people think differently than me. Some people are different. So for me, it was not necessary. But he did it. This is his story, so that’s it.”

Gane added that he accepted that Ngannou may have a bone to pick with him and former coach Lopez. But he said he was surprised that any animosity might be extended to Imavov, who Gane said was Ngannou’s primary sparring partner back in Paris.

“So Fernand, OK. Me, I’m the future opponent, OK. But Nassourdine Imavov, it’s a little bit of a shame.”

Gane also spoke about his desire to make his own story in MMA and not constantly be referred to as Ngannou’s ‘friend turned foe’.

“At first, I was a little bit uncomfortable with that because too many people try to put me in the headlines like, ‘The guy with the revenge,’ but this is not my story,” Gane said. “Let me do my thing, and now I’m comfortable with that. When I started my career in the UFC, maybe my first three fights after every fight, the journalists talk about that: ‘And Francis and Francis.’ Yo, stay focused on me please. I just arrived; I’m gonna do my thing. Francis was already in the top five, so this is the feeling.”

The UFC’s decision to set Gane up with an interim title belt is viewed by many as a strong arm tactic to get Ngannou back in the cage. ‘The Predator has campaigned for a bout with Jon Jones ever since he won the title.

However, the UFC seemed unwilling to pay the bumper price that both Ngannou and Jones requested for the match-up. With an interim heavyweight champion now on the board, Ngannou is at risk of being stripped of his belt (and his chance to earn lucrative paydays from pay-per-views) should he hold out for a fight with Jones.